BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson understands what’s expected of him.
He also feels like he’s not living up to those expectations – not for a player selected No. 3 in the NFL draft by a team that traded up to get him.
Richardson has been hampered by injuries this season.
“I’m still not fully 100 percent yet but it is what it is,” Richardson said. “I’m going to keep playing.”
A second knee scope in 6 months wiped out his preseason and any opportunity to gel with the offensive line before the bullets started to fly in September.
Then came the rib injury in week 6 at home against Cincinnati which is still tender but he refuses to use injuries as an excuse.
“You really can’t predict when you’re going to be 100 percent but I know after the offseason season and come back from the spring and stuff like that coming back next year I know I’ll be 100 percent,” Richardson said. “Whenever it happens I can’t wait to just get on the scene and explode.”
Despite not being at full strength, Richardson is averaging 3.6 yards per carry this season while running for a total of 755 yards and 6 touchdowns in 11 games. He’s also caught 41 passes for 316 yards and a touchdown.
That’s 1,171 all-purpose yards for the former Alabama back and his 6 rushing TDs are the most for a Browns rookie back since William Green had 6 in 2002.
“As long as I have the ball in my hand I feel like I can make stuff happen on the field,” Richardson said. “Even when the ball isn’t in my hand and I’m blocking. You have to be a complete back, a complete football player.”
While running with sore ribs, Richardson is averaging 26 carries and 101.75 yards per game over the last 4 games. He toted the football 29 times last week against a bruising Steelers defense.
Offensive coordinator Brad Childress was impressed.
“That he can do that, 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.”
Many criticize Richardson for “dancing” too much while searching for the right hole to run through. Coach pat Shurmur disagrees with that assessment.
“I think he’s a decisive runner,” Shurmur said. “His style sometimes makes it look like he’s working his way into the hole. That can be deceiving at times. I thought he ran with a very physical style on Sunday. I think each game he plays, each on field situation, he’ll get better and better.”
Richardson was pretty decisive on his 15-yard touchdown run last Sunday against the Steelers. He took it right up the gut and into the end zone – and the Browns won.
He currently sits 245 yards shy of the coveted 1,000 for running backs and is hoping to get there before the season ends.
“For a personal goal and even from the team aspect, it’s very important to me,” Richardson said. “Especially with it being my first year, I want to [accomplish] a lot in my whole career. It’s going to mean a lot to me but it’s not something I look at everyday and say, ‘You have to do this, you’ve got to do that.’
“As long as I get the ball, I’ll get there one day.”
He will get plenty of opportunities Sunday to carry the ball at Oakland. Heavy rain is in the forecast – again.
“We’ve been playing like that all year,” Richardson said. “There’s only been about 3 games [where is hasn’t been] rainy or sloppy. I’ve been playing like that my whole life so there isn’t really a big difference for me.”