Cleveland Browns running back
However, Richardson was unable to finish practice Thursday morning, which allowed veteran running back
“He had a headache today, so he was just dealing with that,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said following practice. “He was out here the whole time. He started out practice, competed through just about when we started team drills and then backed him off a little bit. He’s fine.”
Even though Richardson was not able to finish practice Thursday, he has already put together a body of work for the coaches to evaluate.
Richardson’s ability to run the football at the University of Alabama created attention among professional coaches and decision-makers. What the Browns came away with after going through the pre-draft process with Richardson was his ability to pick up the mental side of the game.
“It was very obvious to us that he was a good learner,” Shurmur recalled. “At Alabama they play a pro style. They are multiple, from pound-it-out type runs to drop-back-pass-protection type schemes. He was familiar with what he was going to have to do at this level. Now, it’s a matter of they called it an orange, we call it an apple and putting the terminology together and doing it the way we do it. When a young man has the ability to learn, and he’s working with a good teacher, I think, as you see, there’s a lot to learn, and it will come together.”
When Richardson returns to the field, Shurmur wants the rookie runner to also focus on his skills without the ball in his hands -- i.e. making his pre-snap reads and pass protections.
“You have got to be right and there is a lot happening quickly,” Shurmur said. “That’s why we practice so much blitz and it’s a challenge. It’s a real challenge for a running back and that’s why sometimes, you see young running backs not make it to the field that quickly because of the pass protection phase, but we feel like he is making good progress and he’ll be there week one.”
Much like they have done over the last week’s worth of practices, the Browns’ coaches continued with their situational drills Thursday. The team worked on 7-on-7 passing drills, as well as full-squad 11-on-11 competitions.
“That was one of those morning practices that coaches like during training camp,” Shurmur said. “It got hot; we were in pads; we were doing some situational work where at the beginning of practice, there was some pounding and then, at the end of practice, the two-minute scenario.
“We had situations; we had heat; we got a chance to run the ball, bang around. That’s one of those days where you have a great opportunity to get better. I don’t know if you guys all watched it, but there were some coachable moments there, some things that we did, some mistakes that we made that we can learn from and get better. That’s why you go through the situations. I thought, for the most part, the guys competed extremely well. I think we pulled out of it okay in terms of getting guys nicked.”
ONE MORE YARD
The first-team offense competed against the first-team defense in an 11-on-11 drill near the end of Thursday’s session. Down by six and in need of a touchdown for the go-ahead score, the offense was able to move the ball inside the red zone with three seconds left.
However, Hardesty was not able to get in the end zone after catching a screen pass from quarterback
“The play was called properly,” Shurmur said. “In that situation there, if you throw the ball in play, it has got to get in the end zone, so ideally speaking, that ball should have gone in the end zone.
“I’ve always been around a good screen game. When we were in Philadelphia, we had an excellent screen game. It’s like every other phase. It’s like being able to throw fades and utilize personnel. I think the screen game can be a very effective tool. It’s an extended hand off really when they are covering you and the front line is rushing. I feel like we’ve made progress. I feel like our guys understand more how to get the ball completed and how to block it on the perimeter.”
RETURNING TO PRACTICE
Rubin’s return is a welcomed sight for a Browns defensive line already besieged with the loss of tackle Phil Taylor for a portion of the season with a pectoral tear which he suffered in an offseason weightlifting session. Rubin was second on the team last year with 83 total tackles in 2011.
“I think it’s very important for him to have another great year,” Shurmur said of Rubin. “I felt like he established himself as one of the guys we want around here for a long time. I don’t see any reason why he won’t and we’re counting on that. That way, until Phil gets back, (we will) see what we have with other players. My guess is we’ll be pleasantly surprised (with) the guys that are going to play in there.”