Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) — Trent Richardson doesn’t like making excuses for not performing or winning.
And the Cleveland Browns rookie running back didn’t on Monday. Instead he set the bar even higher for 2013.
Richardson, who begrudgingly sat out Sunday’s season finale with a sprained ankle, confessed as players cleaned out their lockers that he played most of his first season in the NFL with 2 broken ribs.
The pain made it difficult for Richardson to do basic of things like put on a shirt or sleep yet he still found a way to strap on the pads and take the field.
“It’s real tough playing like that and I’m the type of guy when anything is hurting, if I feel like I can play, I can play,” Richardson said. “I played the whole season like that. Talking to Jim Brown and a lot of guys they were like, ‘I don’t know how you’re doing it.’”
Richardson sustained the injury on Oct. 14 against Cincinnati and was listed on the injury report as having a rib cartilage injury for the remainder of the year.
“I still can’t lay flat on my back or on my side,” Richardson said. “But it’s going to come around, and I know I’ll be healthy before next season.”
Now that the season is over, Richardson hopes they’ll heal in 3-4 weeks but in all honesty, the No. 3 overall pick was never 100 percent in 2012.
He missed most of training camp and the preseason after undergoing a second arthroscopic knee surgery in 6 months. The missed time cost him the chance to gel with his offensive line. Instead he had to use the regular season to get back up to speed.
“I didn’t have any time to catch up with timing you know I just had to go out there in the fire and just play football,” Richardson said. “No training camp for me. But I think this season, offseason and training camp will do me good.
“I think that first game they didn’t know what my game speed was and really that was my first week back running so you know I just went out there and played.”
Richardson played through pain and still ran for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns – both new franchise records previously held by Hall of Famer Jim Brown.
His determination to play when the vast majority of players would take the time to heal impressed fellow first round pick Brandon Weeden.
“It’s unbelievable,” Weeden said. “Most guys would completely shut it down and say, ‘Oh, I’m getting paid.’ That’s not his thing. He’s a competitor. He knew how tough a player he was, how much he meant to this team. I applaud him. It’s amazing what he was able to do with such a beat-up body.”
The critics of the pick by the Browns last April point to Richardson’s disappointing 3.6 yards per carry average this year. And the fact that his longest run of the season was in week 2 – a 32 yard TD run at Cincinnati.
The power and explosiveness that he showed in 3 seasons at Alabama where he ran for a combined 3,130 yards and 35 TDs to go with 730 yards receiving and 7 more scores was barely visible during his first season in Cleveland.
“I wasn’t satisfied with my season at all,” Richardson said. “Looking back at it there was some times and positions where I couldn’t do anything and I made something out of nothing. My offensive line they picked me up and they got better and better as the season went on.
“At a time like this you got to discipline yourself to make sure that you be hard on yourself when you go back and watch film and make sure that you criticize yourself so hard to where you won’t make those mistakes next year.”
He knows he’s got to be better and plans on it.
“It’s going to be a big year,” Richardson said. “It’s going to be one of the biggest years for a running back that you’ve seen around here. And I know I’m talking big but that’s just my goals and that’s my expectations. Like I said, to be a player like I am and to have the kids, you’ve got to understand I just had my first son and you got to realize I’m a man that came from nothing and always trying to make something out of nothing, so I think it’s going to be big for me next year.”