By Marla Ridenour and Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writers
INDIANAPOLIS: Browns starting running back Trent Richardson felt his “dress rehearsal” against the Indianapolis Colts ended much too soon.
Richardson, who was sidelined with a shin problem in the preseason opener, played four series in Saturday night’s 27-6 loss to the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
He rushed seven times for 31 yards, including a 12-yarder, and caught one pass for 10 yards.
“I was glad to see him rocking and rolling,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski was just as encouraged by the performance of the third overall pick in the 2012 draft who played with broken ribs last season.
“I thought he looked good,” Chudzinski said. “I think he’s playing physical, and I think he’s playing fast.”
Richardson touched the ball on the Browns’ first four offensive plays, which he found surprising.
“I didn’t know that,” Richardson said. “Coach has got a game plan. So when they want you to be that go-to guy or they go to you on that play, you’ve just got to be on time with everything.
“Like I told coach in the spring, I was going to be in the best shape that he’s ever seen a running back. So when they took me out, I was mad. I was kind of heated. I was trying to get back in. I was like, ‘Coach, I’m still going back in, right?’ He was like, ‘No, you’re done.’ I was like, ‘Aww, man.’ I really wanted to finish the game, and really to finish that whole half and going into the third quarter. I wanted to finish.”
When it was observed that Richardson showed moves he didn’t display last season, he said, “Last year I was beat up. I don’t even want to talk about last year when it comes to how I felt. I felt terrible. After the games and stuff like that and in the games I felt kind of bad, too. Now I feel good. I feel real good.”
That was most evident after Richardson caught a swing pass from Weeden. He juked Colts outside linebacker Erik Walden to pick up extra yardage.
“Last year I wasn’t able to do it,” Richardson said. “This year, I’m just getting back to the basics. You don’t have to do all this shaking and this and that. When he gets up on you, you make a move and go, or you’re going to have to run him over. It’s either one.”
Richardson said the timing he gained in the game should help when the regular season begins Sept. 8 against the Miami Dolphins.
“I know it’s going to pay off,” Richardson said. “With the offensive line and with the game conditioning, you’ve got to time everything up. You can’t just hit everything fast. You’ve got to make sure you got the right timing down and make sure you do whatever you can do to get more game conditioning.
“So that’s [why] when I’m at practice, I finish past the last defender. I run hard on all my plays. I run hard on my pre-game warm-ups, my pre-practice warm-ups. I do everything hard, so I can be in shape for the game.”
Browns free safety Tashaun Gipson said he called on some of his receiving skills from Kimball High School in Dallas for his second-quarter interception at the Browns’ 2-yard line. Quarterback Andrew Luck’s pass was tipped by the intended receiver, fullback Stanley Havili, before Gipson hauled it in.
“It was a zero coverage, back spread into the flat. My responsibility is to keep him out of the end zone,” said Gipson, who was named the Browns’ starting free safety Wednesday. “If that [the intereception] didn’t happen, I was definitely going to make the tackle and live to play another down. When I saw the ball in the air, he tipped it, then I tipped it. As soon as I tipped it, I knew I pretty much had it.
“My main concern was staying in bounds. I looked to the sideline, had about 3½ yards of field to work with. Wish I could have cut it up [field]. But a turnover’s a turnover, we’ll take that any day.”
Gipson loves the effect such a play can have on a game.
“I was just blessed to haul it in,” he said. “That was huge. Any time you can get a turnover in the red zone that kills the offense’s morale. We were fortunate to make that play down there.”
“That was a big play down there in that situation,” Chudzinski said. “We settled in defensively and played a lot better as the game went on. That’s something we can build on.”
Browns rookie free safety Jamoris Slaughter, a sixth-round pick, suffered a groin injury in the fourth quarter. He did not return.
Browns undrafted rookie strong safety Josh Aubrey suffered a hand injury in the third quarter but returned to the action.
Right guard replacements
Veteran backup tackle Oniel Cousins started at right guard and was in the action for six of the first-team offense’s eight series. Rookie Garrett Gilkey entered the game in the second quarter and played two series with the starters before Cousins came back.
Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston were battling for the starting job during training camp. But Lauvao suffered a high left ankle sprain Aug. 5 and underwent arthroscopic surgery Aug. 9. Pinkston suffered a high right ankle sprain Aug. 15 in the first quarter against the Detroit Lions. Both players are expected to miss the early stages of the regular season.
Quentin Groves started at right outside linebacker in place of Jabaal Sheard, who’s listed as day-to-day with an injured knee.
Rookie Barkevious Mingo, the sixth overall pick, is Sheard’s backup, but he’s still sidelined with a bruised lung.
Billy Winn started at right defensive end with Desmond Bryant out with back spasms. Bryant is confident he won’t need surgery and will be ready for the Sept. 8 season opener.
Buster Skrine started at right cornerback opposite Joe Haden. Skrine has been locked in a position battle all summer with Chris Owens, who sat out with a strained foot arch that he doesn’t think will force him to miss Week 1.
Starting strong safety T.J. Ward made his preseason debut after sitting out the first two exhibition games with a sore hamstring. Ward, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, nose tackle Phil Taylor and Richardson served as coin toss captains. … The retractable roof at Lucas Oil Stadium was open Saturday.
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. Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com.