BEREA — Rookie running back Trent Richardson plans on playing Sunday when the Browns travel to Indianapolis, but will have to wear extra padding on his injured ribs.
The No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft suffered cartilage damage when he took a helmet to the right side during Cleveland’s 34-24 win over Cincinnati, but declined to reveal if one of his ribs was broken.
However, Richardson was quick to say that he will not change his hard running style against the Colts, even if it takes a toll on his chiseled body.
“I’m going to wear different equipment and they’re gonna have to put a special pad on my ribs, but my game’s not going to be no different,” Richardson said Wednesday.
“I’m still going to play physical and play hard-nosed football, smash-mouth football. That’s what I was brought up to do, and that’s how I know how to play football.”
The 5-foot-9, 230-pounder admitted he had trouble breathing after being hit in the first quarter against the Bengals, but attempted to play through the pain. After absorbing contact on all 14 of his carries and two receptions, though, Richardson could not continue.
“I just tried to fight through it and make sure I was out there for my teammates, but as the game went on, I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize my team,” he said. “Coach (Pat Shurmur) did the right thing and made sure I was taken care of, and made sure that Montario (Hardesty) was in the game, doing what he do best.”
Hardesty rushed for 56 yards in his first offensive action of the season, moving the chains successfully throughout the second half, but represents a significant downgrade from Richardson.
The former Alabama All-American leads the Browns in rushing yards (340), receptions (22) and touchdowns (5), logging 117 total offensive touches in his first six professional games.
“I kind of expected to lead the team in rushing, but as far as receiving, I didn’t expect that,” Richardson said. “It just means that they count on me a lot and I mean a lot to the program. My workload is going to be heavy, so I’ve got to make sure that I’m on my stuff at all times.”
If Richardson needed any more incentive to stay sharp, he received it at practice when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit and spoke to the team.
In addition to being a huge Browns fan, Rice grew up in Birmingham, Ala. and roots for Richardson’s alma mater.
“She took a picture with me and said, ‘Roll Tide!’” Richardson said, beaming with pride. “And when she was talking to the team, she mentioned my name.
“I didn’t want to smile and blush up, but I think I did. She’s a very impressive person.”
Then again, so is Richardson, who is on his way to living up to the high expectations placed on him from the moment he turned pro. If Cleveland’s record was better than 1-5 and it wasn’t sitting in last place in the AFC North Division, his face would be omnipresent on national sports highlight shows.
If Richardson has his way, though, that won’t be the case much longer.
“We’re on the right track now and this can be one of those turnaround seasons,” he said. “It’s not the same Cleveland Browns that you saw in the first quarter of the year. We learned from last game, we learned how to finish.
“We want to keep biting off this piece of chicken or whatever it is. We need to keep on getting this fruit because once you get that good taste in your mouth, you don’t want another taste.”
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.