BEREA: Browns running back Trent Richardson insists he’s 100 percent healthy and wants to play Thursday night in the second preseason game of the year against the Detroit Lions, but he also is keeping the big picture in mind.
The organization’s No. 1 goal for Richardson is to ensure he’s ready to roll Sept. 8 when the Miami Dolphins come to town for the regular-season opener. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he hasn’t decided yet whether Richardson will face the Lions after sitting out the exhibition opener last week against the St. Louis Rams.
Richardson rested for two practices Aug. 2-3 after being kicked in the right shin, the same one in which he suffered a strained muscle in the spring. He returned to action Aug. 5 but was limited in team drills.
On Sunday, he received more reps in 11-on-11 sessions and looked sharp running the ball as his workload increased.
“The ultimate goal is to make it to Miami, but it’s one day at a time,” Richardson told the Beacon Journal after practice Sunday. “You don’t want to do nothing too crazy to get hurt. At the same time, you want to be on time with everything, with your timing, the game conditioning and everything like that. Coach [Chudzinski] lets me take my reps in practice here and there and we’re just seeing how everything goes through with my shin.
“I wanted to be out there [in the preseason opener]. Coach makes the decisions. They just told me they were going to sit me down, and that was that. There were no words other than that. Coach made a decision, and it happened like that.”
Speaking of that troublesome shin, Richardson said it feels fine.
“Oh yeah, 100 percent, ready to go, and Coach will let time heal and let time do what it does,” said Richardson, the third overall pick in last year’s draft. “I’m with Coach and letting him tell me what to do.”
Last year, Richardson missed most of training camp and all four preseason games after he had a piece of loose cartilage surgically removed from his left knee Aug. 9. He still made it back in time for the regular-season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles and played most of the year with two or three broken ribs suffered in Week 6.
Still, some believe Richardson could benefit from his first taste of the preseason.
“I think you could benefit either way: not being out there and not getting hurt for the regular season and being out there and being ready for the regular season,” said Richardson, who started all 15 games in which he appeared as a rookie, compiling 267 carries for 950 yards (3.6 average) and 11 touchdowns to go along with 51 catches for 367 yards and one touchdown. “It goes both ways. Coach is going to make the best decision. Whatever it is, at the end of the day, we’re trying to win as one and just trying to stick to team goals and get to where we’re in the best condition for playing the next opponent and putting ourselves in the [best position] to be able to play the next opponent.”
Browns running backs coach John Settle isn’t concerned at all about the possibility of his top player sitting out again this week or resting during any other exhibition game.
“I don’t need to see him against the Lions, and the head coach makes that call, the management makes that call,” Settle said Sunday. “I know my job is to prepare him. I can just tell you he would love to play against the Lions. But I see him practice, and practice is physical enough where he takes hits, he gets knocked around.
“The defense does a good job of going after the ball, so he gets some game-type situations in practice. People say, ‘Hey, what about ball security?’ He’s good enough in that capacity. We work on it in individual time. He gets hit and banged in practice. So I like that part of it. I don’t worry. I trust him with the ball in his hands, and I feel like if we had to play the first game tomorrow, he’d be ready to play.”
Settle doesn’t subscribe to the theory that Richardson needs some preseason work under his belt to be in prime football shape when Week 1 arrives.
“He’s healthy now and the thing is he could’ve played last week if we wanted him to,” Settle said. “He wanted to play. As a position coach, I kind of have a target date: Miami. There are a lot of good backs that didn’t take one snap in the preseason, but were able to come out, i.e., a guy named [Adrian] Peterson from Minnesota. He didn’t play one snap last year and almost broke the rushing record last year.
“I believe [Richardson is] healthy. He feels great. He looks great. If you watch him on film, he’s showing some explosiveness and quickness that he didn’t show on film last year. So I like where he is. I think as a unit, we benefit from him being healthy, being on the field. So I think we need to do everything we can to get him to the opener that way — healthy.”
Richardson said he has no idea whether he’ll play Thursday.
“I don’t know, man,” he said. “It’s Coach’s decision. Hopefully he’ll let me play. I want to be out there. We’ll find out Thursday if I suit up or not.”
But Richardson is certain about what kind of season he could have if he stays healthy.
“It can be a good one,” Richardson said. “It can be great.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.