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Monday, September 3, 2012
Browns' Richardson returns to practice

By Jamison Hensley

This is the type of news that the rebuilding Cleveland Browns needed leading up to their season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Running back Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in the draft and the expected centerpiece of Cleveland's young offense, was back practicing for the first time since having a small piece of loose cartilage removed from the knee 25 days ago. This isn't a major shock because ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported last month that Richardson was expected to play in the season. But, with the Browns, you almost have to see it to believe it when it comes to good news.

And, according to The Plain Dealer, Richardson looked "completely healthy' at the start of practice. Wearing a protective rubber sleeve, he showed no signs of a limp while running drills.

If there is one player that the Browns need offensively against the Eagles, it would be Richardson, even if his workload will be limited. Cleveland can't trust backup running back Montario Hardesty to hold onto the ball and can't expect third-down back Brandon Jackson to carry the ground game. The Browns need to be able to run the ball against the Eagles, which ranked 16th last year in rushing yards allowed per game (112.6) and 19th in yards per carry (4.4).

Plus, the strong running of Richardson will cut down on the obvious passing situations against a Philadelphia defense that harasses quarterbacks. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden fumbled twice against the Eagles on Aug. 24.

The Browns also welcomed back Dimitri Patterson, the team's nickel back who had been out since injuring an ankle in the first preseason game in Detroit on Aug. 10. Patterson may need to start sometime this month if cornerback Joe Haden is suspended by the league. He is presumably appealing a four-game suspension for a failed drug test.