December 22, 2014

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Browns notes: Trent Richardson expects more of himself

BEREA — Browns running back Trent Richardson plans on resting, relaxing and rehabilitating over the team’s bye week.

The rookie from Alabama has certainly earned some downtime, posting two straight 100-yard performances while playing with torn cartilage in his ribs.

“The bye week is going to be big for me as far as the rib injury,” Richardson said Tuesday after practice. “It ain’t really been where I can be at 100 percent yet, so I’m waiting for that moment.

“When they heal — I don’t know if it will be over this bye week, but whenever they do — you’re going to see a whole ’nother Trent.”

That’s saying something, since the current Trent has been quite impressive. He rushed for 105 yards on 25 carries Sunday against Baltimore, seven days after gaining a career-high 122 yards on 24 rushes against San Diego.

Despite sitting out five quarters in early October, Richardson is on pace for a 1,022-yard season, which would break the team rookie record of 942 by Jim Brown in 1957.

“That’s awesome because I see a young man who is a rookie fighting through an NFL season,” Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur said. “Sometimes that deals with playing with injuries, soreness and what have you.

“I see a guy that realizes he can get a little better physically and he knows that will help his performance, so that’s good. I hope he gets better.”

While Richardson ranks 14th in the NFL with 575 rushing yards, two other rookies are sitting higher. Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin is third at 794, while Washington’s Alfred Morris is fourth at 793.

Martin, in particular, has caught Richardson’s eye. The No. 31 overall pick from Boise State is coming off a 251-yard, four-touchdown game against Oakland.

“That dude is blessed, man,” Richardson said. “The way he’s running the ball, it’s tremendous. I expected all of that from him.”

Richardson added that he expects to join Martin in the rare 250-yard club at some point. Jerome Harrison is the only member of the Browns in the group, amassing 286 yards at Kansas City on Dec. 20, 2009.

“Oh yeah, I’m due for one,” Richardson said. “I’m running behind our offensive line and our receivers, so I know they’re going to lay out good blocks. They’re going to hold the edges down and we’ve just got to make sure we just move the ball.

“But I just want to win. If it’s a 50-yard game, it’s a (good) 50-yard game as long as we’re winning.”

View from the top

Shurmur was pleased with his players’ effort Monday and Tuesday in practice, viewing it as a very good sign for the remainder of the season. Cleveland has the third-worst record in the NFL at 2-7, a half game ahead of Jacksonville and Kansas City.

“I think we’ve had two outstanding days of work,” he said. “This is not a day you typically practice on, so they were noticeably sore, but they pushed through it.”

The second-year coach made sure to deliver one strong message before sending his charges on their way.

“I told them if they choose to leave town, it’s important that they realize this is not time off, it’s just time away,” Shurmur said. “I want them to spend time thinking about what went well and what didn’t go well in the first half of the season, get refocused and revitalized, and get ready to play a lot of football.”

Though Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III has been omnipresent since taking control of the franchise, Shurmur said he hasn’t felt smothered by him or new team president Joe Banner.

“We communicate immediately after the game typically, either on the phone (or face to face),” he said.
“Normally, there is also some communication on Monday. I think that’s natural. In terms of how we communicate, I don’t sense a change yet.”

Souvenir city

Kicker Phil Dawson, cornerback Joe Haden, tackle Joe Thomas, linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, center Alex Mack and wide receiver Joshua Cribbs are featured in a Browns collectible cup promotion at Arby’s, a team sponsor.

“I’m in pretty good company with those five guys,” Dawson said. “I guess when you’re with one team for long enough, you get included in perks like this.”

The 37-year-old has played in 208 career games with Cleveland and ranks second in franchise history with 1,222 points. Dawson is 16-for-16 on extra points and 17-for-17 on field goals this season.

“I tend to laugh when I see myself on cups or posters or magazines or things like that, but honestly, they will be something that my family and I look back on fondly when I’m done playing,” Dawson said. “And I now know where we’re having dinner.”

Dawson and defensive tackle Phil Taylor were both excused from practice Tuesday, prompting Shurmur to say, “Nothing to worry about there. The Phils are fine.”

Party time

Browns safety Ray “Bubba” Ventrone was given a surprise 30th birthday celebration Sunday. His wife, Katie, arranged for 50 family members and friends to attend the Cleveland/Baltimore game at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

“I was shocked when I came out for warm-ups and they were going bananas in the stands for me,” Ventrone said. “Apparently, my wife has been organizing it for a couple months, but I had no idea. She did an amazing job and I really appreciated it.”

The group was quite visible tailgating in the main Port Authority lot, wearing “Happy Birthday Bubba” T-shirts while warmly greeting any Browns fan that stopped by.

Election information

  • Richardson is one of five finalists for the Pepsi Max NFL Rookie of the Week, along with Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin, Indianapolis wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. Fan voting at www.nfl.com/rookies will determine the winner and is open until Friday at 3 p.m.
  • Haslam, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, and Indians owners Larry and Paul Dolan each made significant donations to the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, according to Sports Business Journal.

Extra points

  • All NFL teams are given four consecutive days off during their bye week, two of which must include the weekend, according to the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Shurmur opted to add an additional day off for his players, who do not have to return to Berea until Monday.
  • Shurmur said he will attend the St. Edward/Mentor high school football playoff game Saturday. His son, Kyle, is a sophomore quarterback for the Eagles.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.