Cleveland Browns running back
It was a season that began with him recovering from knee surgery that cost him most of training camp and prevented him from playing the preseason, and ended with him battling a rib injury for half of the games.
With time to heal during the offseason, Richardson returned to the field Tuesday for the first of three practices in this week’s minicamp. Afterward, he said he was feeling “better than ever.”
“I feel great, 100 percent,” Richardson said. “I’m out there flying around. I finally feel skinny. I don’t have all these big pads on me right now. It’s way easier to breathe. I can sleep at night. It’s a fresh breath. It just seems like all that hard work I put in last year is really starting to pay off and bring my game to the next level, where I need to be this year.
“I’ve been flying around and moving. Everything I do, I don’t feel anything is wrong with me at all, and I feel better than ever.”
Richardson ran for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns, had 1,317 total yards from scrimmage, and scored 72 points last season. He also rushed for 100 or more yards in three games, equaling the record set by William Green during the 2002 season.
Coach Rob Chudzinski said he and offensive coordinator Norv Turner are excited about working with Richardson.
“Really, I’m looking more forward to what we want to do with him,” Chudzinski said. “If you look at both Norv’s history and my history of featuring a running back, I think Trent has all those qualities that you want from a guy who’s going to be able to carry the load and is going to be a big part of our running game.”
Besides having time to heal, having Turner as his offensive coordinator was one of the reasons Richardson was smiling after his first practice during the offseason program.
Turner won two Super Bowl rings as the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys in the early 1990s. Among the players he coached was Hall-of-Fame running back Emmitt Smith, who went to the same high school in Pensacola, Fla., as Richardson.
“For him to be able to coach Emmitt Smith and call plays, and to learn from him, that’s big for me,” Richardson said. “I’m always going to have some connection to (Smith), no matter what.”