A team source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the Browns will play Trent Richardson in the season opener, but they will limit the workload of the rookie running back until he has more time to heal from his most recent knee surgery.
That's the right move by the Browns. In fact, that's the only move they can make.
The Browns' current brain trust -- team president Mike Holmgren, general manager Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur -- might be tempted to play Richardson more. After all, their jobs are essentially on the line this year after the recent change in ownership. But, with as many as seven rookies or second-year players starting this year on offense, the franchise has to make every decision while thinking of the future.
Richardson, the third overall pick of the 2012 draft, hasn't practiced since getting his right knee scoped Aug. 9. He is scheduled to do some work on the field next week, according to Holmgren. What everyone should remember is Holmgren saying the Browns are going to be "smart" with Richardson.
That indicates the team isn't going to rush Richardson back. Jimmy Haslam just bought the team and he doesn't want to hurt the future of the Browns' biggest investment of the year. Richardson has already had two surgeries on this knee this offseason. The Browns don't want to do anything that would lead to a third.
The regular-season opener has to be treated like a preseason opener for Richardson. That's why it would be surprising to see Richardson get more than 10 carries Sept. 9 against Philadelphia. There's really no pressure to give him more playing time than that, either. Browns backup Montario Hardesty has played well this preseason (except for a fumble against Green Bay), and more importantly, he hasn't gone down with an injury as in the past two years.