INDIANAPOLIS: Rookie running back Trent Richardson faced a harsh reality Sunday— coach Pat Shurmur didn’t think he was effective enough to play in the second half of the Browns’ 17-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Richardson attempted to fight through a rib cartilage injury he suffered last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, but Shurmur benched him after he was stuffed for no gain on third-and-1 from the Colts’ 35-yard line with 4:17 left in the second quarter. Richardson finished with eight carries for eight yards, and the Browns tallied only 55 yards on 17 carries (3.2 average) against the Colts, who allowed 252 rushing yards to the New York Jets last week.
“Coach didn’t think I was as I usually am,” said Richardson, who wore a flak jacket to protect his ribs. “That’s something I have to swallow. It’s a process trying to get back. The injury I have is much bigger than what folks think it is, and I don’t want to do anything to hurt the team.
“I’m not myself out there right now. You look at me, I guess I’m not running hard like I’m used to, so I’m not out there right now. So it is worse than what people think it is.”
Shurmur said Richardson’s rib injury wasn’t exacerbated, and he didn’t suffer a new injury, either. After the game, Richardson, who was the third overall pick in the draft this year, said he wasn’t experiencing pain.
“He’s no worse for wear,” Shurmur said. “In my opinion, how the game was going, [he] wasn’t quite effective. I think maybe the injury there contributed. So he didn’t injure it. He’s moving forward. Today I don’t think contributed to any setbacks.”
Richardson said he did not ask to leave the game.
“It was their decision,” Richardson said. “I always feel I’m ready to play no matter what, and I always want to be out there for my team and stick it out no matter what. I didn’t call the shot.
“They just told me to stay ready and keep my legs warm. Obviously, I didn’t get back in the game.”
With Richardson out, the Browns relied heavily on passing. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden completed 25-of-41 attempts for 264 yards and two touchdowns without an interception for a passer rating of 96. Backup running back Montario Hardesty had seven carries for 28 yards (4.0 average).
“It’s hard to say what was going on,” Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas said when asked if he was surprised the Browns didn’t run more. “I guess I’m not surprised because we were moving the ball pretty well throwing it. No second-guessing or anything like that. We knew they would be coming in to stop the run after what happened last week.
“[Richardson is] obviously our go-to back. And when he’s not 100 percent, you are not calling the plays you have designed for him in the running game. The play-calling changed a little bit.”
So was it the right decision to bench Richardson?
“That’s something you will have to ask Pat [Shurmur],” Richardson said. “For me, I thought I should have been in the game, but that’s any athlete, anyone who has that fight in him and is competitive. I’m proud of what Montario did. He always does a great job when he gets in. Coach made a smart decision.”
Safety Ray Ventrone, one of the Browns’ best special teams players, was flagged twice for offensive holding on Josh Cribbs’ kickoff returns, which he said were the first on special teams in his seven-year career.
The first set the Browns back from their 28 to their 10, but they still managed to score a touchdown. On the second, Cribbs had the Browns set up at their 40, but they were marched back to the 14.
Ventrone didn’t agree with the calls, especially since he’s playing after having a plate and six screws inserted in his broken left thumb, hurt in the season opener.
“I legitimately thought I made legal, clean blocks,” Ventrone said. “They said that I threw the guy to the ground on both of ’em.
“For me to hold somebody, I’m playing with one hand. I don’t know if it’s possible to see a replay; I know I’m going to see it on the plane.”
Browns receiver Greg Little missed practice Thursday with the flu and said he felt “out of it all week.” But he said he told his coaches he was going to play “no matter what.” He came up with the best touchdown catch of his two-year career, a 14-yarder in the back of the end zone in the second quarter.
The play survived a replay review as Little managed to get both feet inbounds and maintain control of the ball.
“I had beat the corner and I knew I was getting the ball,” Little said. “Brandon had gone through his progression, so by the time the ball came the corner had caught back up. I know he’s in a position where he can make play. He jumps a little early and it forces me to jump, too. I kind of caught it on the way coming down. On my way down the ball hit my fingertips just enough so I could still make a play on it.”
Little said he had a fever Saturday night, but still managed to catch a career-high six passes out of seven thrown his way for 52 yards.
“My fever was up and down all week,” Little said. “I tried to push through it.”
Asked if it was the best of his four career touchdowns, Little said, “I don’t know. I’ll probably have to check it out.”
Brown to the rescue
Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown returned from an ankle injury with 1:37 left in the third quarter to make the Browns’ biggest defensive play of the game. With 7:25 remaining, Brown sacked Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and forced a fumble, then won a wrestling match with Luck for possession, giving the Browns the ball at the 50.
“I actually slowed down a little bit because I was thinking about the fine,” Brown said, worried about roughing the passer. “I didn’t want to launch or do anything of that stuff. I tried to play within the rules.”
Brown said such big plays are a result of film study. But Luck’s tendencies didn’t turn out exactly as he expected.
“My whole thing was maybe he would be this way and I was thinking ‘Strip, pick up and run,’ ” Brown said, cocking his arm. “But I think he pumped, brought it back to his chest instead of looking down the field and I had a shot coming in from the side. I tried to wrestle the ball with him as he went to the ground.”
Brown finished with a team-high 10 tackles (nine solos).
Pinkston bound for IR
Browns left guard Jason Pinkston is “more than likely” bound for injured reserve soon, a league source said. Hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic with a blood clot in his lung, Pinkston tweeted a picture of himself wearing a Browns hoodie in bed.
“Joe made a comment in the huddle, ‘Let’s go get this one for Pink,’ ” Weeden said, referring to Thomas. “We’ve all shot our texts and wished him well. We’re going to miss him. He’s not only a good player, but as you guys know, a great person. It’s a bad, bad deal. He’s a strong kid and so he’ll fight through it.”
Boardman High School graduate John Greco made his fifth career start and his first as a Brown in place of Pinkston.
Colts running back Delone Carter had 11 carries for 41 yards (3.7 average). Carter, a Copley High School graduate, ran for 2 yards on fourth-and-1 at the Browns’ 24, gaining a first down to help set up Adam Vinatieri’s 38-yard field goal with 3:19 left in the third quarter. … Tight end Alex Smith was the lone surprise among the inactives … ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Twitter that new CEO Joe Banner, not president Mike Holmgren or General Manager Tom Heckert, would have the final say on whether the Browns make a trade before the NFL deadline of 4 p.m. on Oct. 30. … Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin departed in the second quarter with a calf injury. … The Browns’ first-half scoring drive that consumed 8:22 was their longest since a march took 9:57 at Jacksonville on Nov. 21, 2010. … The Browns’ nine penalties were the second most of the season, trailing their 10 in losses to the Bengals and Giants.
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