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Thursday, July 25, 2013
Could Richardson lead NFL in rushing?

By Jamison Hensley

Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner has coached the NFL's leading rusher five times. Could running back Trent Richardson be the next one?

Richardson
Turner got every fantasy football owner's attention Tuesday when he indicated Richardson could carry the ball 300 times this season. All five players who cracked 300 carries last season ranked in the top six in the NFL in rushing.

"If that player is your best player, then I think it’s probably a good thing to have him in the game and give him the ball," Turner said, via The Plain Dealer. "So I would hope Trent would have that many carries. That means he’s playing healthy and playing at a pretty high level."

Under Turner, Emmitt Smith, Ricky Williams and LaDainian Tomlinson all won rushing crowns and handled a major workload in doing so. Smith carried the ball 365 times in 1991 and 373 times in 1992. Williams had a whopping 383 carries in 2002. And Tomlinson ran the ball 315 times in 2007.

Few running backs have to take such a pounding these days. In the previous two seasons, only seven players have carried the ball more than 300 times. The past 10 rushing champions, however, have averaged 353 carries during their respective league-leading seasons.

Richardson did some heavy lifting as a rookie last year under coach Pat Shurmur even though the No. 3 overall pick battled injuries. He played 702 offensive snaps in 2012, which was ninth-most among NFL running backs. Richardson established himself as a workhorse despite undergoing a knee scope early in training camp, breaking his ribs in Week 6 and missing the season finale due to an ankle sprain. He finished 18th in the NFL in rushing with 950 yards but tied for fifth in the league with 11 rushing touchdowns.

Turner was asked how Richardson measured up against the likes of Smith and Tomlinson.

"Just watching him and seeing him against us when I came here in October and then watching the tape, yeah, he’s that type of runner," Turner said. "Obviously he’s the third pick in the draft. I think he has a lot of great days ahead of him. I always have a problem comparing players because each guy has his own unique style, but I think he’s capable of doing great things."