Trent Richardson returns to practice

Updated: September 3, 2012, 10:13 PM ET
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com

Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft, practiced for the first time in nearly a month in preparation for Sunday's season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Richardson has been sidelined since Aug. 9, when he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

Wearing a protective rubber sleeve over the knee, he looked smooth running drills during the 15-minute viewing portion of practice and didn't show any signs of limping, according to ESPN Radio in Cleveland.

He rode a stationary bike at the start of practice on Saturday, and afterward coach Pat Shurmur indicated that as long as Richardson could practice this week he would play against the Eagles.

"If he's ready to go, he will be our starter," Shurmur said. "Trent looked good. He was in team (drills). I knew he'd be out here and he did a good job. It was his first day back in practice, so we did what we could do. Trent looked healthy running around."

Although Richardson was not on the practice field for weeks, Browns general manager Tom Heckert said the 22-year-old did not have any setbacks and said the team is not concerned about him being out of shape. Heckert said the Browns would be smart about Richardson's playing time and not overload him in Week 1.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported 10 days ago that Richardson was expected to play in the season opener, although his workload likely would be limited until his knee would have time to heal.

"Each person is different when they come back from injury," Shurmur said Monday. "We'll see as we go. All along I've been hopeful that he'd be there."

Browns team president Mike Holmgren was of the same thinking.

"When I've been in this situation before with players, when it's close, and we're really kind of counting on him, if he hadn't had the surgery, he was going to touch the ball a lot," Holmgren said. "But now you have to be careful. The worst thing we could do is rush him before he's ready."

Richardson had what the team termed "routine arthroscopic" surgery by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., on Aug. 9. Andrews did a similar procedure on Richardson on Feb. 3 to repair a torn meniscus the running back suffered in the same knee while playing for Alabama during its BCS national championship victory over LSU.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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