The Browns kicked off a stretch of eight full pads practices over the next 10 days leading up to the Family Night session at Cleveland Browns Stadium Aug. 8, and the preseason opener at the Detroit Lions Aug. 10.
“It felt good out here in pads,” Richardson said. “Everybody’s getting their sea legs back and getting back into the groove of hitting with good thuds and good contact. It felt good. I love contact and football’s a contact sport, so if you don’t love contact, you’re in the wrong sport.
“That’s when I really do what I do best. I get to bounce off guys or run guys over, break tackles. It’s different when you’re in pads. I think when I get into full pads, it’s a whole different me. That’s not to be cocky or anything, but it’s my confidence in my game and that’s what I was blessed with.”
Head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Brad Childress elected to feature the running game on Sunday morning in front of a record crowd of 4,200 fans at the team’s Berea training facility. Although the Browns displayed a commitment to running the football on Sunday, Richardson sees the Browns as “a more balanced team.”
“I just think our offense is going in a good direction,” Richardson said. “As far as focusing on the running game, I think we’re going to be strong. We’ve got a good running back corps; we’ve got a good running back coach; we’ve got a good offensive line coach. Our offense is prepared for anything and so, I don’t think we’re just going to be a running team. I think we’re going to be a balanced team. We’ll be ready for whatever.”
Richardson ran for 3,130 yards and 35 touchdowns in his University of Alabama career.
Last year, Richardson became the Crimson Tide’s feature running back following the departure of Mark Ingram, a Heisman Trophy winner who was a first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in April 2011. In his only year as the feature runner, Richardson gained 1,679 yards and scored 21 touchdowns, both of which were single-season school records.
Even with the success, Richardson has taken a mental approach to his football career and said there is “only pressure when you make it pressure.”
“All of it is on preparation,” Richardson said. “Every day, every minute that we’re doing the playbook stuff or every minute we’re in the weight room, every minute we’re out here doing something extra before practice or after practice, just being a person off the field that’s doing stuff for the community, everything is getting ready mentally for the game. The game’s 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical and everything I do is in preparation for the game.”
During Sunday’s practice, Richardson put that “20 percent physical” on display. After catching a screen pass from rookie quarterback
His play drew cheers from the fans.
“I really just let my eyes do the work,” Richardson said of his cut-back ability. “I’ve been blessed with good timing. At ‘Bama, they used to make us do a lot of cut-back drills and, ‘See beyond your pads,’ as they used to tell us. Here, I just took everything I learned from there and Little League and in my whole life and just bring it to today. I just bring how I’ve been coached anywhere, even here, and put it all to my game. I just play football.”