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, a former Ohio State standout, 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 beyond the one on Coleman’s face.
“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 the 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 his longest. Cleveland ran for only 99 yards on the day — 35 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. “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 in practice all week, was expected to play sparingly. But he wound up being the 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.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur praised Richardson’s effort, if not the results.
“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 be full-go this week, that future begins 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.”