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Rookies show leadership skills

Posted Oct 13, 2012

Cleveland Browns rookies Trent Richardson and quarterback Brandon Weeden have proven to be leaders on and off the field.

Cleveland Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson proved to be a leader on a national championship-winning team at the University of Alabama in 2011, and the ability to lead is one of the many things he brought with him to the National Football League.

For his play on the field and work in the film room, Richardson was named the fourth captain for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

“I think rookies come in and try to establish themselves as teammates with their level of play and I think he’s starting to do that,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Thursday. “I think he has natural leadership ability. I think his answers are well thought out and he understands his role on this team. All those things, I think, will make him a good leader as we go.”

Richardson gathered the team early in the season to express his desire to win and commitment to improving on the team’s season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He has backed up that vocal leadership with his play on the field.

Richardson has rushed for 303 yards and four touchdowns on 81 carries and is the first Browns rookie to ever rush for touchdowns in four consecutive games.

“There’s a chemistry in the locker room,” Shurmur said. “For some who haven’t been in there, when you add yourself to a locker room, whether you’re a free-agent player or a rookie, you come in with a reputation. Nobody knows you. Everybody hears that you’re all this and all that. You have to establish yourself by playing and playing well. I think that can be said for everyone.

“I encourage our rookies to first, impress everyone with what they do and then, as time goes on, people will start to listen to what they say. That’s just generally how a locker room’s built. You typically find guys that are leaders once they’ve established themselves as guys that are good enough at what they do where they can extend themselves to help others. That’s why you see your best, and most dynamic, players assuming leadership roles.”

In addition to showing an example on the field, part of being a leader is accepting responsibility when things do not go as expected.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden said part of the reason for his interceptions comes with “ego” and trying too hard to throw into tight windows. Weeden threw four interceptions in the team’s loss to the Eagles, but has evened his touchdown-to-interception ratio over the last four weeks. Weeden has thrown five touchdowns and five interceptions over his last four games.

“Anytime you can own it, that’s huge,” said Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress. “I certainly haven’t put it in the ego category. For him to keep shooting is really important. Whether it’s in the face of an error to shut it down and clamp down, and just look five yards beyond the line of scrimmage is not a good thing. That’s something that I have seen with young quarterbacks that do shut it down and don’t keep shooting. I’d say, having learned from that and being able to acknowledge it is a plus, but I don’t want him to back up.”

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