Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Monday, August 20, 2012
Richardson 'a little bit ahead' of schedule

By Jamison Hensley

After enduring a painful training camp, the Browns are getting some good news on injuries for a change.

Richardson
First, middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (sore shoulder) practiced Sunday afternoon for the first time since Aug. 7. Then, coach Pat Shumur told reporters that rookie running back Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in April's draft, still may play in the Sept. 9 season opener. After Richardson had his knee scoped on Aug. 9, the team said it was "hopeful" that he would be ready for the Eagles game.

"Trent's getting better every day, so his progress has been outstanding," Shurmur said. "He's about where we thought he'd be, probably a little bit ahead. So he'll be out here soon."

While this news is encouraging, you have to wonder how much Richardson would play in the season opener if he's able. If he can't practice next week and misses the preseason finale, it will likely limit his workload for the first couple of regular-season games. It would be awfully demanding of the Browns to ask him to carry the ball 20 times in the opener when he wasn't able to suit up the week before.

Even though backup Montario Hardesty has played well, the Browns need Richardson as soon as he's ready. Cleveland moved up in the draft to secure Richardson for a reason. He is the best offensive playmaker on the team. But the Browns also can't rush him back. Richardson has already had two procedures done on that left knee this year, and new owner Jimmy Haslam can't afford damaging the cornerstone of his offense.