Richardson could be ready for Birds

Trent Richardson, the third pick in the 2012 draft, missed the Browns' exhibition season because of knee surgery.
Trent Richardson, the third pick in the 2012 draft, missed the Browns' exhibition season because of knee surgery. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: September 05, 2012

BEREA, Ohio - Trent Richardson has practiced with the Browns. All that's left is for him to play.

Cleveland's rookie running back returned to practice Monday for the first time since undergoing knee surgery on Aug. 9, a strong sign he will play in Sunday's season opener at home against the Eagles.

With his dreadlocks flowing out of his orange helmet, Richardson took some snaps with Cleveland's first-team offense during the portion of practice open to the media. He had a black rubber sleeve on his repaired left knee, which has been operated on twice since he helped Alabama win a national championship in January.

After the morning workout, Browns coach Pat Shurmur sounded optimistic about Richardson's chances of facing the Eagles.

"If he's ready to go, he will be our starter," Shurmur said. "Trent looked good. He was in team [drills]. I knew he'd be out here and he did a good job. It was his first day back in practice, so we did what we could do. Trent looked healthy running around."

Shurmur wouldn't say when a decision will be made on Richardson making his pro debut .

"Each person is different when they come back from injury," he said. "We'll see as we go. All along I've been hopeful that he'd be there."

The Browns will have their only practice in full pads this week on Thursday, when they will work primarily on short-yardage situations. Richardson missed Cleveland's four exhibition games and it will be important for him to take some hits before getting on the field against Philadelphia.

Richardson was not available for comment.

The No. 3 overall pick in April's draft, Richardson had been doing rehab, including some light contact work, behind the scenes since his operation.

Because he missed so much time during the preseason, the Browns will likely limit his carries in the first few weeks. However, once Richardson is rolling, Browns cornerback Joe Haden said there may be no slowing him down.

"He can be as good as he wants to be," Haden said. "He can definitely be an All-Pro. He has everything you need to be a good running back. He's big, he can catch, he can pass block and he's an every-down back."

As for Haden, he said he couldn't talk about his possible NFL suspension for reportedly failing a drug test. Haden said, "I honestly don't know" when asked if he'll play in the opener. It's possible Haden is keeping quiet because he's appealing the suspension. Haden said his teammates have been supportive.

"Everyone's cool," he said. "You just keep going, keep playing, keep practicing. With my teammates, it's like nothing has been going on."

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