CLEVELAND — Trent Richardson didn’t knock anybody’s socks off during his NFL debut Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium. But a helmet was a different story.
Leaving an indelible impression on what was an otherwise nondescript day for the Browns’ running back, Richardson steamrolled Philadelphia’s Kurt Coleman and separated the Eagles free safety’s helmet from his head as he finished off a 9-yard run in the second quarter.
It was a bruising display of power by the third overall draft pick that left a mark not limited to those on the face of Coleman, a former Ohio State standout, following the game.
“That’s just something that happened. That’s just how I play football,” Richardson said. “It was a good feeling to make an entrance in the NFL, somebody’s helmet coming off when they’re trying to tackle you.
“For my first game, I think it went OK. It could have been better.”
To pick up yards against the Eagles, Richardson all but had to run over defenders. Holes were difficult to locate against a vaunted Philadelphia interior, and Richardson, who missed all of the preseason after knee surgery, lacked the burst and elusiveness that he showcased as a star at Alabama.
He rushed for just 39 yards on 19 attempts, with the 9-yard run in the second quarter accounting for his longest gain. Cleveland ran for only 99 yards on the day — 35 of them coming on a double-reverse to wide receiver Travis Benjamin.
“It gets frustrating at times, but at the same time, every play’s not going to be perfect,” said Richardson, who caught a pass for 5 yards and dropped another thrown his way. “You can only control the things you can control. Our offensive line fought real hard today. There were certain mistakes that we all made. I stand behind my offensive line 100 percent. I know they’re behind me 100 percent.
“I gotta make people miss. I didn’t make people miss like I usually do, so I didn’t do my job.”
Richardson, who was a limited participant in practice all week, was expected to play sparingly. But he wound up being Cleveland’s featured back, carrying on all but three of the Browns’ rushing attempts. He was the only running back to log an attempt.
“I was ready to play,” he said.
Still, if Richardson’s lack of game action and practice reps affected his performance Sunday, it’s understandable.
“The (college) system I came from, the (NFL) game is just a tad bit faster,” Richardson said. “It’s about the same for real. But at the same time it’s different when you’re there on the field. I think it was a pretty good day, as far as trying to get used to the NFL system.
“As far as having that initial burst, I don’t think it was at full stride. It’s going to get better. It’s not going to take that long. Once we hit that field next week, it’s going to be man on man. We gotta go at it.”
Browns coach Pat Shurmur praised Richardson’s effort, if not the results produced by his first-year running back.
“We tried to run Trent and I think he held up pretty well,” Shurmur said. “I would say this … he’ll play better next week.
“We had to put a leash on him to get him out of there (Sunday). That’s what you want from a guy that plays that position. He’s going to play a lot of great football around here for a long time.”
With Richardson likely to return to practice full-go this week, that future begins next Sunday in Cincinnati.
“I expect more of myself next week,” he said. “You’ve got to expect nothing but greatness every time you go out there.”
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.