BEREA — The pain was worse than running back Trent Richardson anticipated.
So was the game film.
“It really didn’t look like me,” he said.
Richardson tried to play through a rib cartilage injury Sunday in a loss to the Colts but was benched after eight carries for 8 yards. He realizes he didn’t help the team, but won’t even listen to the idea he’d be better off taking a couple of weeks off to heal.
“I’m not gonna sit down,” he said Wednesday after practice, in which he was limited. “That’s just never been in me to sit down.
“I’m gonna go out there and see what I can do. If I can’t finish the game, Montario’s gonna be there and he’s gonna do what he does every week when I’m not in the game.”
Richardson agreed with coach Pat Shurmur’s decision to replace him in the second quarter against the Colts with Montario Hardesty. He said he feels better by the day and expects to play Sunday against the Chargers.
But he’s been dissatisfied with his performance through the first seven games of his NFL career.
“It’s frustrating because I want to be out there all the time,” said Richardson, who has rushed for 348 yards, a 3.4 average and four touchdowns. “And I want to be 100 percent and the league hasn’t seen me at 100 percent yet. I mean, I had two surgeries in less than (six) months, so it’s still where I still do a little rehab to not get off track.
“I’m still going to go out there and do all I can, give 120 percent. A lot of people say 110, I say 120 because that’s just how I like to have my mindset and my expectations.”
Before the rib injury, Richardson dealt with his knee. He had arthroscopic surgery in February, then another scope Aug. 9. He missed most of training camp and the entire preseason schedule.
“Missing them four games, it took a toll,” he said. “I wasn’t me when I first got out there. But as the weeks go on, I get better and better every week.”
He returned for Week 1 and was rounding into form when he took a helmet to the midsection Oct. 14 against the Bengals. He was forced to leave the game, then wasn’t himself against the Colts despite wearing a flak jacket for protection. He lost 3 yards on second-and-goal from the 1 and was stuffed on third-and-1 in the second quarter — his final carry.
“It’s tough to see that I wasn’t at 100 percent and I felt like I can always do more,” he said. “I felt like I could’ve made more people miss. And my game, I’m not usually letting the first person take me down and I wasn’t really giving initial contact. I just think when it got to the contact part, I couldn’t really go at 100 percent.
“It was kind of at the point where it’s like, OK, I might need to sit down a little bit. It was a little worse than I thought it was gonna be as far as like pain-wise and taking hits. So coach made the right decision.”
Shurmur said Richardson didn’t suffer a setback or reinjure himself, so he doesn’t regret playing him. He has thought about resting him the next two weeks and returning him to the lineup Nov. 18 after the bye, but isn’t ready to go there.
“I think what’s important is if he’s healthy to play, he plays,” Shurmur said. “If they tell me he is at no risk to hurt if further, then we’re playing ball. As I watch him in practice, just like we watched him in the game, if we feel like that’s something that we can and should do, we’ll do it. Otherwise we’re getting ready to play.”
Richardson, who wore a LeBron James T-shirt during the interview, said the medical personnel have told him playing can’t make the rib cartilage worse.
“I just think as I go on, it’s just gonna get better,” he said. “They felt around on it today and they said it’s getting back solid again and it’s feeling pretty good.
“I can tell a big difference. Last week, it was still fresh.”
Regardless of the physical state of the ribs, Richardson thinks he can overcome with his mind.
“I’m really just focused on the point that I know in my mind mentally I’ve gotta be much stronger so I can finish a whole game,” he said.
He won’t know for sure if that’s possible until Sunday.
“That’s gotta be the ultimate test,” he said. “Since you really can’t hit that much in practice, you’ve really got to wait till that first contact on game day. But they gave me a little bumping in practice.”
A reporter jokingly asked if Richardson wanted the media to jostle him on his way out the door.
“If you’re ready to get hit back, that’s on you,” he said.