BEREA: Browns running back Trent Richardson’s lack of fear extends beyond the football field.
He’s not afraid to lead despite being new to the NFL, and he’s certainly not anxious about the possibility of hitting the proverbial rookie wall. As Richardson’s first professional season continues to unfold, it has become increasingly obvious that he’s far from ordinary in many ways.
The Browns (0-5) picked Richardson to serve as their fourth captain Sunday, when they’ll host the Cincinnati Bengals (3-2) in an AFC North rematch from a month ago. So far, he’s the only rookie who has been chosen to receive the weekly honor of joining seasonal captains Joe Thomas, D’Qwell Jackson and Phil Dawson for the coin toss.
“To be a game captain is an honor and privilege,” said Richardson, the third overall pick in this year’s draft. “It means the guys have a lot of respect for me, and it means I have learned a lot since I’ve been here. There is still a lot to go as far as my potential here. And as far as this year goes, there’s a lot for us to go as a football team. These guys believe in me. They are showing me and telling me, ‘We’re behind you, so lead us on.’ ”
Because he’s still new to the organization, Richardson prefers to lead by example. Still, that doesn’t preclude him from speaking out if he feels it’s necessary. A few days after his breakout performance against the Bengals in Week 2 — 19 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown to go along with four catches for 36 yards and a touchdown — Richardson called his teammates together at the beginning of practice and urged them to reject the losing culture that has haunted the franchise for most of its expansion era.
In other words, Richardson isn’t bashful about being vocal.
“It was ingrained in me when I was a young boy,” Richardson said. “My mom [Katrina] was never shy at anything she did. My mom always told us that whatever you do, do it for a purpose and make sure you are out there doing your best. If you feel like you have anything to say, you make sure to speak your mind. Don’t hold anything in because that can kill you inside.”
Coach Pat Shurmur said he has already noticed Richardson’s leadership qualities.
“I think he has natural leadership ability,” Shurmur said. “I think his answers are well thought out, and he understands his role on this team. All those things, I think, will make him a good leader as we go.”
As for the dreaded rookie wall, Richardson couldn’t stop himself from laughing when he was asked about it.
“I don’t feel the rookie wall,” Richardson said. “I don’t care about the rookie wall. People talk about that stuff. If you’ve noticed the last few seasons of [college] football, I’ve had championship games. The way we [practiced] at Alabama it was game situations. [Coach Nick] Saban made us practice and scrimmage all the way to our bowl games, most likely the national championship game. I don’t think I will hit that wall anytime soon.”
Now Richardson just wants the Browns to snap their losing streak in his debut as a captain.
“I think there’s always pressure when it comes to getting your first win, and we still haven’t got it yet,” Richardson said. “We are the last team in the NFL not to have a win, but I think it’s only pressure if you make it pressure. I think we can pull this off.”
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.