BEREA — Trent Richardson wants the ball every play. He’d settle for 25 rushes a game.
He’s not happy or satisfied with the 13 carries he got in the opening loss to Miami.
“I don’t think they really stopped the running game,” Richardson said Thursday. “I think we stopped it ourselves as far as just getting away from … we were behind and we just gotta keep fighting and no matter what we gotta stick to our game plan. And I guess Coach had another game plan and it went that way.”
Coach is coordinator and play caller Norv Turner, who’s in his 29th year in the NFL and one of the most respected offensive minds in the game. He’s in his first season with the Browns.
Turner called four Richardson rushes on the first drive and they netted 26 yards. Over the next two-plus quarters, he carried nine times for 21 yards, finishing with 13 carries for 47 yards (3.6 average). He didn’t run the ball in the fourth quarter, as the Browns trailed by double digits for the last 6:48. The Dolphins won 23-10.
“We came out and we executed four or five plays awfully well,” Turner said. “And then they hit us with a couple run blitzes, which teams are going to do. They came at us when we started getting a little bit of run and then we didn’t execute as well.”
Richardson carried at least 20 times in five games as a rookie last year – five straight starting in Week 8. He averaged 95.8 yards a game and the Browns were 3-2. In the 11 games he didn’t hit 20 carries, he’s averaged 47.1 yards and the team is 2-9.
Richardson expects to carry the load and is anxious for the time when that’s standard operating procedure. The next chance is Sunday at Baltimore.
“It’s something that you practice for, that you prepare for,” said Richardson, whose career average is 3.6 yards per carry. “All my life I’ve been that guy. And I can’t wait ’til that day comes when I’m getting 25 reps-plus or whatever.
“I know Coach felt like he let me down, and it’s not that. I’m behind Coach 100 percent, and I know we were playing behind, so he had to do what he had to do to try to put points on the board.”
Turner has a history of featuring his workhorse back, but felt like the circumstances prevented it Sunday. Richardson runs averaged 6.5 yards for the first four attempts, but dipped to 2.3 for the last 9.
“I just thought that we were gonna run the ball,” he said. “And I thought it could be a real good day.”
But the Dolphins have a stout line and shifted their focus to stopping Richardson. It didn’t help that the Browns converted only one of 14 third downs, which limited their opportunities.
Turner’s grand plan hasn’t changed. He still wants to feed Richardson early and often.
“We’ve looked at that and that’s a big emphasis all the way through and what happens to you obviously is as you get into a game, you get caught up in trying to win the game,” he said. “I think if we’d gotten him his — I’d like to see him over 20 carries — I think he would’ve had more production.”
Richardson said he spoke with Turner and coach Rob Chudzinski about the workload following the game and carries no hard feelings. But he was surprised he didn’t play more on third down. Instead, fullback Chris Ogbonnaya was used in most obvious passing situations.
“I know Obi is prepared for all things, but it was kind of a shocker that I didn’t play as much as I thought on third down,” Richardson said.
“A lot of it is where we’re at as a group,” Turner said. “We want Trent on the field. There’s some things he’s ready to handle in our third-down stuff, in our nickel package and there’s some things Obi’s going to handle for a while.
“Trent missed some time obviously in camp and there’s some things that we want to use him in there, and we’re going to do it when we can.”
For all of Richardson’s clamoring for the ball, he made sure to say he supported the coaches.
“I’m just doing what Coach tells me to do and whatever he’s got planned I’m with it,” Richardson said. “We know we’re not where we want to be and there’s a lot to learn from last game and this whole week of practice is preparation for Baltimore and hopefully it is more touches and we come out with a ‘W.’”
One of Richardson’s three 100-yard games in 2012 came against the Ravens, as he rushed for 105 yards on 25 carries (4.2 average) despite broken ribs. He had 47 on 14 carries in the first meeting at Baltimore in Week 4.
“It just makes me want to work harder, makes me want to be that guy that’s always rushing for 100 or 90-plus or is going to get there and they’re going to be like, ‘Man, I don’t want to play against him,’” Richardson said. “I want to be that guy that they always remember when it comes time to playing them.”
The Ravens’ defense underwent a makeover in the offseason after winning the Super Bowl. Linebacker Ray Lewis retired, and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger and safety Ed Reed left in free agency. The new-look Ravens allowed 49 points and 510 yards in the Thursday night opening loss at Denver, but only 65 were rushing yards.
“Baltimore’s Baltimore,” Richardson said. “What game is there where you get more pumped up? You’re playing the champions from last year and that defense.
“It’s more talent than I have ever seen, even with Ray and Ed not there. They’re fast. They’re bullies and they’re going to do anything they can to stop you and they’re not just talented up front, they’re talented all around.”
Quarterback Brandon Weeden was in the shotgun for 46 of 72 snaps against the Dolphins. Of the 26 snaps under center, 12 were handoffs to Richardson, who ran once for 7 yards out of the shotgun – the final play of the third quarter.
“We want to continue to work on developing the running game out of the shotgun,” Turner said. “Trent likes being deep, so I think we’ll be able to get that done.”
“You can just see the field,” Richardson said.
The guy handing him the ball knows where Richardson fits in the offense.
“He’s going to have to touch the ball,” Weeden said. “There’s no secret to that.”