BEREA: Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson has his eye on the 1,000-yard rushing plateau, and statistics suggest he’ll be in prime position Sunday to earn a substantial chunk of the 245 yards he needs to reach his goal.
“For a personal goal and from the team aspect, it’s very important to me, especially me being in my first year and wanting to conquer a lot in my whole career,” Richardson said of running for 1,000 yards. “It’s going to mean a lot to me. But it’s not [something] I look at every day. As long as I get the ball and I feel like I’m right there on the field the whole time, I feel like it’s going to get there one day. I’m not in a rush for it. But when it gets there, it gets there.”
Of course, Richardson wouldn’t mind busting loose this weekend when the Browns (3-8) visit the Oakland Raiders (3-8). Three teams — the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cincinnati Bengals — have rushed for more than 200 yards against the Raiders this season. In Week 9, Buccaneers rookie Doug Martin ran for 251 yards and four touchdowns in Oakland.
But Richardson, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, said he’s not focused on trying to match Martin’s performance. He’s not taking the Raiders’ 28th-ranked run defense (131.2 yards allowed per game) for granted, either. He remembers when he rushed for only 8 yards on eight carries against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 8 and was benched for the entire second half as he dealt with the rib cartilage injury he suffered the previous week.
“You can’t look at stats,” said Richardson, who has tallied 209 carries for 755 yards and six touchdowns this season. “You can’t look at any of that stuff. They can shut you down like [when] we played Indy. People talked about how they were one of the last rush defenses. They held us to [55 yards] when it came to rushing. I didn’t even get to finish the game. I never look at stats. I never judge a defense from the films or from what they have done in the past. I just wait until I get out there and see what I can get.”
The Browns will likely need stellar production from Richardson, especially if the weather at O.co Coliseum leads to a heavy dose of running plays. The forecast calls for downpours in the morning followed by intermittent rain.
“We’ve been playing like that all year,” Richardson said. “There have been only about three games when it wasn’t raining or sloppy. I’ve been playing like that my whole life, so it isn’t a big difference to me. It’s really been raining the whole season.”
When asked if Richardson excels in the mud more than most running backs, offensive coordinator Brad Childress said, “I don’t know. We may find out. I don’t recollect seeing him in college in a monsoon situation, but we’ll find out. I suspect he’d be pretty good.”
Playing in adverse weather often tests players’ mental toughness. Richardson showed his grit Sunday by rushing for 85 yards on 29 carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ No. 1-ranked defense.
“He can take that beating and beat on them some and give it back,” Childress said. “That’s the way football is sometimes and just the fact that he had that many carries, that’s hard work. We didn’t have a lot of breakouts, but that’s a pretty good defense.”
While the Browns were trying to run down the clock in the final three minutes of their 20-14 win over the Steelers, Richardson had six carries. The Steelers crowded the line of scrimmage and repeatedly teed off on him.
“Got to man up,” Richardson said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re hitting you before you get the ball. [It doesn’t] matter if they hit you at the line. No matter what the situation is, I have to hold the ball, man up and play football.”
The 5-foot-9, 230-pound Richardson held his own during his first meeting with the Steelers, especially considering he’s still not 100 percent healthy after hurting his ribs Oct. 14 against the Bengals. He believes he’ll need an offseason to recover completely.
“Coming back next year, I know I will be 100 percent,” Richardson said. “And whatever happens, I can’t wait just to get on the scene and explode.”
The Browns wouldn’t mind if the explosion occurred sooner, and they would be thrilled if he breaks out on the Bay.
Special-teams ace Josh Cribbs is expected to play Sunday despite injuring his shoulder/chest area in the third quarter against the Steelers. Coach Pat Shurmur said Cribbs returned punts and kicks Friday after sitting out practice the previous two days.
“He did everything he needs to do to be ready to go Sunday,” Shurmur said. “I expect him ready to go.”
Cribbs and free safety Eric Hagg are listed as questionable on the injury report. Hagg missed practice Friday with an illness, but should be ready to play, Shurmur said.
The Browns ruled out cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle), special teamer Ray Ventrone (calf) and free safety Usama Young (concussion).
Patterson, the team’s top nickel corner, will miss his seventh game in a row since suffering a left high-ankle sprain and torn ligament Oct. 7. Although Patterson said he’s ready to play and has not suffered a setback, Shurmur ruled him out. Patterson did not travel with the team to California.
“Disappointed? Not really,” Patterson said. “You can control what you can control. At the end of the day, I’m coming back from a really tough injury. I’m ready. But it’s how these things work sometimes.
“You can’t control your number being called. So you’ve just got to continue to work, respect the decision and just move forward. That’s really all you can do.”
Richardson (chest/rib/finger), special teamer Johnson Bademosi (hip/shin), tight end Jordan Cameron (groin), right guard Shawn Lauvao (arm), defensive end Frostee Rucker (shoulder/finger), fullback Alex Smith (chest/ribs), strong safety T.J. Ward (knee) and quarterback Brandon Weeden (concussion) are probable.
The Raiders suspended linebacker Rolando McClain for two games for conduct detrimental to the team.
“That’s something that they’re dealing with,” Shurmur said. “I really would have no comment on that. My understanding is that Omar Gaither will start in his place. I know Omar from my days in Philadelphia. He’s a fine player as well.”
The Raiders also ruled out defensive end Jack Crawford (toe) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee/hamstring). Running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson are questionable as they try to come back from high-ankle sprains that forced them to miss the past three games. Safety Tyvon Branch (neck), running back Taiwan Jones (ankle), quarterback Carson Palmer (right thumb) and fullback Marcel Reece (hamstring/quadricep) are probable.
Problems with penalties
The Browns had 10 penalties for 90 yards against the Steelers. The offensive line was penalized for holding four times, all in the second half. Childress said players and coaches know which officiating crews tend to call more penalties than others.
“We know if we feel like the crew are over officious jerks, to quote [former NFL coach] Marv Levy,” Childress said. “We have opinions about certainly all those crews, and some fall more into that category than others. Yeah, we have pretty strong opinions.”
When asked if the crew from this past weekend falls into the “over officious jerks” category, Childress told reporters, “I’d leave that up to you guys.”
Palmer, who’s in his second season with the Raiders, has known Rucker since their days at the University of Southern California, and they also played together with the Bengals. Palmer said Rucker, the Browns’ starting right defensive end, is “just a physical freak.”
Rucker has 32 tackles this season and is tied for the team lead with three sacks.
“There is no weakness with Frostee,” Palmer said. “He understands the game. He’s very smart. He changes up his pass rushes, and he’s also just a big, physical guy that can play the run. He can get outside and run guys down.”
Mike Holmgren was seen saying goodbye to players in the locker room Friday, which was officially his last day as president of the Browns. Holmgren and his wife, Kathy, will fly to Arizona today. … Former Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell is among the 27 semifinalists being considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013. Modell died Sept. 6 at age 87.
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.