PHOENIX: Browns running back Trent Richardson would have been penalized 15 yards and fined for making one of the most memorable plays of his rookie season under a rule proposed by the NFL’s competition committee.
In the 2012 regular-season opener, Richardson lowered his head and used it to smash into Philadelphia Eagles safety Kurt Coleman during a 9-yard run, knocking Coleman’s helmet off and drawing gasps from the Cleveland crowd. Coleman began bleeding instantly but did not miss a defensive snap the rest of the game.
But because Richardson initiated forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top crown of his helmet when both players were clearly outside the tackle box, he would have been in violation of a proposed rule owners will vote on Tuesday or Wednesday. The competition committee used video replays of Richardson’s bone-rattling hit to illustrate what it believes should be an illegal play during a presentation Monday at the owners meeting.
“We want to bring the shoulder back to the game,” said St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the competition committee. “As we all know, the helmet is a protective device. It’s not designed to be used like it’s being used as of late, and we want to protect our players, specifically out in space.”
Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, said Richardson would have been fined for the blow. The play would not have been reviewable under the proposed rule.
Fisher said the owners could vote on the rule as soon as Tuesday. If not, they’ll definitely vote on it Wednesday. At least 24 owners (75 percent) must vote in favor of any rule or bylaw for it to pass.
Browns General Manager Mike Lombardi stopped at the owners meeting briefly to exchange pleasantries with reporters but declined to be interviewed Monday. Lombardi hasn’t addressed the media since the day he was hired – Jan. 18.
“Whether people are for him or against him, he’s a lightning rod at the moment,” Browns CEO Joe Banner said of Lombardi. “It attracts a lot of attention and it gets a lot of strong reaction, and I think it’s better for us right now and better for him to keep things calm, low key, focus on his work and then kind of more gradually let that situation take care of itself in terms of his availability.”
Uniform, stadium updates
Banner said the Browns probably won’t have new uniforms until after the 2014 season, but they’re three weeks into their market research, which usually takes four to six months. The Browns will meet with the NFL regarding their uniforms at the owners meeting, Banner said.
New scoreboards won’t be installed at FirstEnergy Stadium this year, but Banner said they’ll eventually be coming.
Banner said the playing surface at the stadium won’t be changed this year. He doesn’t think the Browns will replace the grass with FieldTurf down the road, either.
Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown said he hasn’t recently talked to owner Jimmy Haslam about a role with the team but their conversations in the past were great. Brown attended the owners meeting because he’s involved with a newly established Common Good Fund that will provide benefits to retired players. “I think it’s a great day for football and a great day for the owners and the players and for the image of that relationship,” Brown said. … Banner said he won’t attend any pro days, but Lombardi will, even though he has yet to do so. … Banner declined to comment on the status of kicker Phil Dawson and special-teams ace Josh Cribbs, both of whom are free agents. Cribbs reportedly took a physical for the Arizona Cardinals on Monday but has yet to sign. … The Browns hope to have an update on the status of left guard Jason Pinkston in the next few weeks. Pinkston’s 2012 season was cut short after a blood clot was discovered in his lung. … Banner said the team is optimistic about the status of linebacker Chris Gocong, who suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon last summer, but is uncertain whether he’ll be able to participate in the first minicamp next month. … Banner said he doesn’t have “any rift at all” with Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, his childhood friend and former boss.
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.