BEREA — Trent Richardson has not had big games in terms of yardage through four games, but he has been able to do something that hasn’t been done with the Cleveland Browns in recent years.
He’s scored touchdowns — four in four games, to be exact.
Richardson has 222 yards on 64 carries for a 3.5 average. His season long was a 32-yard touchdown run against the Cincinnati Bengals. Three of his touchdowns have been on the ground, with the fourth coming on a 23-yard reception against Cincinnati. Richardson also leads the team with 15 catches for 122 yards (8.1 avg.)
Richardson was not on the Browns injury report for the first week this season.
“My mindset is confident,” Richardson said. “Week One was kind of all over the place for me.
“I was just trying to come back,” he said. “I hadn’t played in a NFL game, first game, first start. My mindset was, ‘Hey, I am going to go in and do whatever I can, do whatever I can to help the team,’ but now I feel more comfortable. I know the flow of the game, the flow of the speed and I know what I can between each level of the game.”
Richardson has tied the team record for scoring touchdowns in three-straight games rushing. Eric Metcalf did so in 1989. Richardson’s 344 total scrimmage yards are the second-most by a Browns rookie through 4 games since Bobby Mitchell had 470 yards through four games in 1958.
“We all know that he started the year and was less than 100 percent,” Pat Shurmur said. “I think he’s getting where he’s at a place physically where he needs to be. The rush per carry thing, we’ll talk about that as we go along. I’m sure you’re going to quote me on that every week now.
“I know that we kind of got a feel for what type of runs he’s good at,” he said. “The one thing I will say about Trent, and you’ve heard me say this is a bunch of times. It’s about points. He finds a way to get in the end zone, and that’s what is important.”
Richardson said he’s always found a way to score points.
“I’ve always had a nose for the end zone, especially, when we’re down near the goal line,” he said. “I was always taught to have a nose for the end zone.
“It’s been ingrained in me and it’s a natural instinct.”
Shurmur likes the trait in Richardson.
“Some guys have it and some guys don’t,” Shurmur said. “There are a lot of guys that can get you up and down the field. You’ve seen, there are running backs that can get you up and down the field, and then there are other ones when you give it to them—I will point to we’ve thrown it to Trent quite a bit where he’s had great production—with the ball in their hands, they kind of see where they fit in the whole deal, and they find a way to get in the end zone. He has that ability.”
Because the Browns got behind against the Bills and Ravens, Richardson has carried the ball from scrimmage just 12 and 14 times, respectively, in each game. Shurmur knows he has to get the ball.
“I’m not going to pin myself down to a number,” Shurmur said. “It’s important he touches the football and it’s important he’s involved throughout the game. That’s important.”
Richardson said he’ll be ready whenever his number is called.
“Coach has a plan,” “It doesn’t matter if I get the ball a lot. It doesn’t matter if I get the ball a little. As long as we win, that’s all that counts.”
Offensive coordinator Brad Childress said he thinks if Richardson can get into the flow of the game quicker, it will be more effective.
“It all starts with getting into a rhythm running the ball,” Childress said. “And then the passing game will come.”
Richardson says he’s used to being the focal point of the offense.
“Oh yeah, the defense is going to try to key on me regardless,” he said. “That’s the one thing they always have done and they’ve seen me play a little bit more now so they are going to try to key on me more than anything now, but that makes it easier for our receivers.
“Brandon had what, over 300 yards passing (actually 320 against the Ravens), that’s good with me ii we win the game,” he said. “But if they key on me and we lose, I feel like it’s my fault.”
Richardson averaged five yards a game at Alabama and Childress knows that is completely different playing at the NFL level. He said he doesn’t see frustration in Richardson’s eyes.
“All those guys whether receivers or running backs would want the ball every time,” Childress said. “I don’t sense frustration. Five yards a carry at this level is some pretty tall cotton. I don’t sense frustration other than he wants to do more.”
Richardson said regardless of his personal accomplishments, he won’t be satisfied until the Browns start winning.
“We aren’t good until we win,” Richardson said. “We’re almost there, but until we start winning that’s when we’ll be good. The offense is a big part of that—we have to put up points, catch the pass, run the ball hard, make blocks and we have to be on our right assignments. We have to know what we are doing when we run our routes or check downs or whatever it is. We are going to come together and it’s coming along. We are getting there.”
Ward Back: A welcome sight at practice was the return of S T.J. Ward to the practice field. He was listed as doubtful on Wednesday for not practicing, but defensive coordinator Dick Jauron is hopeful he’ll be able to play Sunday.
“Hopefully T.J. will be able to play, but so far, he hasn’t practiced,” Jauron said before practice. “He has been playing well.”
Ward had surgery in the last week on his right thumb after suffering the injury against the Ravens. Fellow DB Ray Ventrone suffered the same injury and missed one game.
Shurmur did say there has been a bright side to some of the injuries, beside the suspension of CB Joe Haden.
“We’re dealing with a couple of situations with the secondary,” Shurmur said. Of course, with Joe being out and then we’re dealing with injuries. Sometimes, we’ve played teams more with three wide receivers and it’s given us the opportunity to see some of the guys play.”
Injury Update: There were not many changes in the Browns injury situation, other than Ward. During the time the media was able to watch Ward was the only player to practice that didn’t on Wednesday.
Four players didn’t practice: WR Travis Benjamin (hamstring), DB Tashaun Gipson (knee), WR Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring) and TE Alex Smith (head). Questionable: WR Josh Cribbs (head), LB James-Michael Johnson (ribs/oblique), DL Frostee Rucker (shoulder), DB Ray Ventrone (hand/calf), DB T.J. Ward (hand) and DB Usama Young (knee).
Notable injuries listed for the Giants are WR Hakeem Nicks (foot/knee) will not play according to Tom Coughlin on Thursday. G Chris Snee (hip) and CB Corey Webster (hand) are doubtful.
Shurmur was asked if Benjamin and Massaquoi would be able to practice.
“We’ll have to see, they’re both dealing with hamstrings those we’ll have to see. “There are some guys that are really fast that can play with nagging injuries and others can’t.”
Neither player practiced.
Tough Guy: WR/KR Josh Cribbs said his family asked him to quit playing football after suffering a concussion last week against the Ravens.
Shurmur said there is no question that Cribbs is a very tough player.
“I have a huge admiration for Josh,” Shurmur said. “He is a tough football player. He loves the game. I admire that and I also know the feelings the family has for those they love.”
Shurmur said that toughness is the most admired trait a player can have, in his opinion.
“The most admirable trait to play our game is toughness,” Shurmur said. “When we bring guys here we’re looking for guys that are tough.”
Shurmur Cares: Shurmur was depicted by some media outlets that his response to the NFL Network’s airing of ‘Cleveland 95’ Wednesday was that of not caring about Browns history and what Browns fans have gone through, but he said that’s not the case.
“I’m very well aware of it,” Shurmur said. “In ‘95 I worked for Nick Saban. I’m not insensitive to it. I believe history is important, but as a coach –although I’m sensitive to it—you focus has to be on keeping your players in the moment and the moments we’re preparing is for the Giants. I live here. I eat in Cleveland restaurants, but it’s important to keep the player’s focus.”
Shurmur said he addressed the Browns move to Baltimore and the history of it last week when the Browns played the Ravens.
Slow Starts: Shurmur was asked about the Browns continual slow starts to games. Last week, the Browns were behind 9-0 before they scored and were down 14-0 against the Bills before the scored.
“Let’s talk about slow starts for a moment,” Shurmur said. “If the score is 0-0 after the first quarter, it’s not a slow start for the defense.”
JMJ Back: Rookie LB James-Michael Johnson is back practicing after missing the first four games with an oblique/rib injury. He is expected to make his NFL debut this week.
“It’s really good to get him back,” defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. “It’s his first full week back in practice. He’s moving around really well. We’re excited for him to be back.
Jauron said Johnson would play in the ‘base defense’, most likely.