By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
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BEREA: Browns running back Trent Richardson stayed on the field after practice Wednesday as his teammates walked toward the locker room. He couldn’t pass on an opportunity to be tutored by Marshall Faulk.
Richardson listened closely as Faulk showed him how to run a route and offered other valuable advice for life on and off the gridiron.
“He always tells me to be smart about my money and to play behind my pads,” said Richardson, the third overall pick in last year’s draft from the University of Alabama. “He always tells me, ‘Don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do.’
“Last year, I played with broken ribs and ain’t nobody know it. But I feel if my legs aren’t broke, I can still run. I played through it and that’s another example, and I got a lot of respect from him and everybody around the world that I played like that.”
Faulk, a hall of fame running back who attended practice as an analyst for NFL Network, believes Richardson has special qualities.
“Yeah, it’s there,” said Faulk, who won a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams. “You saw it in college. It’s the reason that in a league that they’re starting to kind of devalue the position, he gets drafted so early. He has it in him. It’s in him to be great. He wants it. He’s never shied away from asking questions or letting you know what he don’t know because he understands that the things that you don’t know when you find them out, it makes it easier to become great.”
Faulk, who played five seasons for the Indianapolis Colts and another seven for the Rams, is also convinced Richardson is one of the young players the Browns have who’ll thrive under offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
“I’m a resource for him because this is the same offense that I played in, and I made my hay by being on the field every down and as much as I could,” Faulk said. “Just in talking to him and talking to Norv the little bit that I did, they want to feature him as an every-down back, and if he can handle it and he’s not one of those guys that wants to tap his helmet and don’t mind sharing the backfield with people, then it makes it easier to be great when you take advantage of the opportunities that are out there.”
Faulk can envision Turner doing so well with the Browns that he’ll get another job as a head coach after serving in that capacity with three other teams, most recently the San Diego Chargers.
“Norv as a head coach took a lot of blame for a lot of stuff,” Faulk said. “The reason why he called plays as a head coach is because he’s great at it. You just can’t turn it over to anybody when you’re as great at it as he is. Unfortunately for you guys, he’s going to come in with these young guys and somebody else is going to give him another look as a head coach because he’s going to put up numbers.
“And he’s going to put up numbers against the Baltimore Ravens. He’s going to put up numbers against the Pittsburgh Steelers, against the Cincinnati [Bengals]. He’s going to put up numbers. This is just what he does. If you give him one side of the ball, one thing to worry about, the man is great at it. He’s not a good offensive coordinator. He’s a great offensive coordinator.”
Richardson figures to be vital to Turner’s offense. Although Turner wants to feature a downfield, vertical passing game, he also wants Richardson to be the workhorse in a power running scheme.
Last season, Richardson started all 15 games in which he appeared and had 267 carries for 950 yards (3.6 average) for 11 touchdowns to go along with 51 catches for 367 yards and a touchdown. He played all but one regular-season game after undergoing knee surgery Aug. 9 and suffering broken ribs Oct. 14.
“It’s not about how healthy you are,” Faulk said. “It’s how unhealthy you can play at times, and that’s what being reliable at the position is. He’s thirsty to not just get yards and be a good player, but he wants to be great and he wants to win. And those are the things that tend to help organizations change the culture that puts a bad taste in fans’ mouths, in players’ mouths when they come in here.”
Richardson said he studied film of Faulk when he was at Alabama and met him for the first time last year at the NFL Scouting Combine. Considered one of the best receiving backs of all time, Faulk gave Richardson a tip about route running that he plans to use.
“He calls it the Faulk route, but a lot of people call it the ‘angle’ route,” Richardson said. “He was like the king of it. He’s still the king of it. I haven’t seen nobody run it like him. He runs at an angle and he pushes it to the linebacker’s shoulders. Whichever way he turns, you got to turn the opposite way and make them miss, and you’ll be wide open and the quarterback will get it to you if they see you in time.”
Faulk, though, wasn’t the only legendary running back on the field Wednesday. Hall of famer Jim Brown, a special adviser for the Browns, has become a fixture at camp. Brown ranks ninth all time in rushing with 12,312 yards, and Faulk is 10th on the list with 12,279 yards. The difference between their yardage totals is 33, the number on Richardson’s jersey.
“[Faulk], me and Jim Brown on the same field, that’s a powerful field,” Richardson said. “That’s a strong moment to have both of them on the field at the same time.
“I’m still like a little kid when I look at these guys and my eyes are getting big, and I almost get star-shocked when I see these people and for me, now they’re living their dream with me. … I owe these guys a lot because these guys mean a lot to us, and they still mean a lot to us to this day, about the game of football, the game we love to play.”
Richardson wants to join them in the hall of fame one day.
“I want my name to be in the hall of fame,” he said. “[I want] my kids to go back and look and say, ‘This is what my father did,’ and for my son to grow up and be like, ‘My dad did this and I want to do better than him,’ for kids around the world to be like, ‘I can do what Trent Richardson did or do it better.’ ”
Richardson also wants other things Faulk earned during his playing days.
“A Super Bowl,” Richardson said. “That’s what I’m praying for, and that’s what I’m pushing to and that’s what we’re striving for every day.
“He was a third-down back, man, and Marshall wasn’t that big, but he was that guy on the field that everybody feared. When I get on that field, I want everybody to fear me.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. 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.