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Browns notebook: Starting RB Trent Richardson to play Thursday, backup Montario Hardesty ruled out after dislocating thumb

By Nate Ulrich
and Ryan Lewis
Beacon Journal sports writer

BEREA: Browns starting running back Trent Richardson received a pleasant surprise Tuesday shortly after the final training camp practice open to the public wrapped up.

Richardson, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, will make his NFL preseason debut against the Detroit Lions on Thursday night at FirstEnergy Stadium, coach Rob Chudzinski said in his post-practice news conference.

Richardson, though, said he wasn’t aware Chudzinski had given him the green light until reporters informed him.

“Oh, he told you I’m playing?” Richardson said. “Hey, I’m surprised like y’all and I’m happy, and I can’t wait to get up out there.”

Richardson missed all four exhibition games last year as a rookie because he underwent surgery Aug. 9 to have a piece of loose cartilage removed from his left knee. And he sat out the preseason opener last week against the St. Louis Rams because the Browns were being cautious with him after he was kicked in the right shin, the same one in which he suffered a strained muscle during the spring.

“We’ll play Trent,” said Chudzinski, adding most of the starters will play until midway through the second quarter and possibly the entire first half. “We’ll get him a couple series, and then we’ll go from there.”

Chudzinski also revealed that second-string running back Montario Hardesty suffered a dislocated right thumb during practice Monday and won’t play Thursday. Hardesty was hurt while catching a high direct snap, but he returned to action Tuesday on a limited basis, participating in individual drills. He wore padding or a soft cast on his thumb.

“We padded him up, and he was OK,” Chudzinski said. “He went out and did some individual drills in practice today, and we’ll see about him for next week.”

Hardesty declined to speak to reporters, but Richardson was excited to talk about receiving Chudzinski’s blessing to test himself in the preseason.

“It’s a big relief,” Richardson said. “I want to play all the time, and I’m just real happy with the decision coach has made.

“I just want to get the timing down with the offensive line, game speed, game conditioning, just being in there with my team and just getting back in the groove.”

Richardson 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. He played through two or three broken ribs for the majority of the year, missing only the season finale after suffering a high ankle sprain Dec. 23 against the Denver Broncos.

“I haven’t played a game since the Denver Broncos and so it’s been a while since I played a real football game,” Richardson said. “So I can’t wait to just get up out there and get that feeling again.”

Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden will gladly welcome Richardson back to game action.

“It’ll be nice for him to get out there and have him back in the backfield and do some things,” Weeden said. “He’s healthy and I think he feels good, and I’m excited to have him back.”

Lone kicker

Chudzinski said undrafted rookie Brandon Bogotay will be the only kicker the Browns use Thursday against the Lions. Shayne Graham, who’s entering his 13th NFL season, will get the night off.

The two kickers have been splitting reps throughout camp.

“It’s a pretty tight competition,” Chudzinski said. “We want to give him [Bogotay] an opportunity to be put in a situation where he has to kick them all. ... I want to see him make them all. ... Just give him a chance to show he can handle that.”

Bogotay is excited for the opportunity.

“Each kick is important, and whether it’s a competition or not, you want to make every single kick,” Bogotay said. “It’s a lot of pressure, but it comes with the territory. Any rep is a good opportunity to get out there and prove what I can do and that I can handle it.”

Bogotay has been in this type of a competition before. At the University of Georgia, he entered each spring and fall camp in a battle with Blair Walsh, who last year was voted to the NFC Pro Bowl team as a member of the Minnesota Vikings.

“We were always neck-to-neck, but he had back-to-back All-American years,” Bogotay said. “He’s an amazing kicker, and I got to learn from him and now I get to learn from Shayne, who’s a veteran and he’s had an amazing career.”

When it counts

Strong safety T.J. Ward missed the preseason opener but has been running with the first-team defense this week. Ward said he’s hopeful he’ll play Thursday against the Lions, but that it’s Chudzinski’s decision.

Ward also said that if this were the regular-season opener against the Miami Dolphins, he’d be playing “for sure.” Actually, he’d just about be OK without any preseason action.

“NFL is the only level where you have a preseason,” Ward said. “College, you can just jump in Week 1 and play. High school, Game 1. If there was no preseason, that’d be all right. But we have an opportunity to warm up a bit, so that’s cool, too.”

Open to scrimmage

Chudzinski said he’d be open to the idea of having other NFL teams join the Browns for a scrimmage or joint practice during a future camp.

“I have done it before. I think it’s a good thing,” Chudzinski said. “This first year, we will focus a little more on ourselves and get ourselves straight, to begin with. Some of it has to do with how the schedule comes out. I generally like the idea of doing that. I would consider doing it.”

Outside linebacker Paul Kruger said his former team, the Baltimore Ravens, never scrimmaged against another squad, but there are some positives to trying it.

“I think it’s just seeing different guys and for me getting different guys blocking and different techniques,” Kruger said. “It’s always good to have different things thrown at you.”

Another apology

Following Bernie Kosar’s controversial remarks made during WKYC’s telecast of the preseason opener last week, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King took to Twitter and asked if Kosar had been “drinking” while serving as an analyst.

Kosar called the Rams’ receivers “horrible,” said he’d be embarrassed if he was one of their parents and criticized third-string quarterback Kellen Clemens and receivers coach Ray Sherman.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher verbally blasted Kosar, saying he lost respect for him. Browns CEO Joe Banner released a statement saying the organization doesn’t condone Kosar’s comments.

Kosar has also called Fisher to apologize, a team spokesman said.

On Monday night, King apologized via Twitter for questioning whether Kosar was “drinking” and expounded on his apology in a mailbag published Tuesday on TheMMQB.com.

“I was out of line for my question to Bernie Kosar here Saturday,” King wrote on Twitter. “My fault — no one else’s.”

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.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.



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