BEREA, Ohio — Trent Richardson doesn’t have to wait and wonder any longer. The time has come.
He’s finally going to play for the Browns in an NFL preseason game.
Cleveland’s second-year star running back, slowed by injuries so far as a pro, was thrilled to find out he’ll play in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Detroit Lions.
Richardson was held out of last week’s opener against St. Louis by coach Rob Chudzinski as a precaution because the former first-round pick was still recovering from a shin injury and the Browns didn’t want to take any chances of it worsening.
But following Tuesday’s practice, the Browns’ final one of training camp open to the public, Richardson was told by reporters that Chudzinski plans to use him for “a couple series.”
“Oh, he told you I’m playing?” Richardson said, surrounded by media members standing near the goal post. “Hey, I’m surprised like y’all and I’m happy and I can’t wait to get up out there.”
Richardson missed the entire preseason as a rookie a year ago while recovering from knee surgery. He had hoped to play in all four games this summer, but the Browns took the safe route last week and rested him against the Rams.
Now, it’s time to turn Richardson loose. He worked extensively with the starters during practice, and afterward Chudzinski announced Richardson will play this week. Not a lot, but some.
“I kind of had a feeling he was going to say, ‘Yeah’ today because he had me going in there with starters today,” Richardson said. “It felt good when I was out there and I’m happy coach told y’all I can play.”
Richardson had been harping about wanting to play, saying he’s healthier than at any time since he starred at Alabama. He wasn’t going to push Chudzinski to put him on the field and said he would respect whatever decision was made.
In the end, he got the one he wanted.
Chudzinski appreciates Richardson’s desire to never miss a down, but wasn’t willing to put his young back in any jeopardy.
“You want guys to want to play,” he said. “Trent wants to play. At the same time, he trusts us enough that we will make the right decisions of putting him in a position that he will be ready to play opening day.”
Richardson rushed for 950 yards last season despite playing most of the year with broken ribs. He played 15 games, missing only the finale after rolling his ankle the previous week against Denver.
The Browns are eager to see what he can do in their revamped offense, and Richardson said getting on the field during the preseason is vital to his and the team’s growth.
“I just want to get the timing down with the offensive line, game speed and game conditioning and just being in there with my team and just get back in the groove,” he said. “I haven’t played a game since the Denver Broncos, so it’s been a while since I played a real football game so I can’t wait to just get up out there and get that feeling again.”
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden can’t wait to see Richardson on the field — in a game.
“It’ll be good,” Weeden said. “I guess he didn’t play in the preseason last year, I completely forgot about that, so it’ll be nice for him to get out there and have him back in the backfield and do some things. He’s healthy and I think he feels good and I’m excited to have him back.”
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