BEREA — Running back Trent Richardson was healthy and happy as the Browns opened training camp on Thursday afternoon.
The second-year pro showed no signs of the broken ribs, ailing knees, or right shin injury that plagued him throughout his rookie season and minicamp.
Even more encouraging, Richardson wore no protective padding on the aforementioned body parts as he darted around the grass fields.
“Everything is on the upside right now and I’m just loving it,” the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft said. “I’m going to play every down like it’s my last down, whether in practice or the preseason, but I’m going to be in the best shape I can be in September.”
Richardson is already in fine physical condition, reporting to Cleveland at his college playing weight of 225. He said he began last season at 230, but wound up at 233 for most of the campaign.
Despite being badly hindered by rib and knee pain, the former University of Alabama standout led the Browns with 950 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie.
“I’m feeling way better this year,” Richardson said. “Since I (held out of) last training camp, I was playing catch-up from the start. And as soon as I did catch up, I broke my ribs.
“My knees feel great, I’ve got nothing on my ribs, and being at 225 is great because I played my whole college career at that.”
“T-Rich” also was happy about the endorsement he received earlier in the day from Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown.
When Brown was asked to address the team by Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski, he invited Richardson to join him at the podium and embraced him.
The symbolic gesture went a long way to erase Brown calling Richardson “ordinary” prior to last year’s draft.
“I still haven’t done what I know I can do in this league, but that was an honor, coming from the greatest of all-time,” a visibly pleased Richardson said. “I’m not going to let my head get big, especially to my Browns fans, to my people back at home, to everybody.”
Buster Skrine worked opposite cornerback Joe Haden on the first team defense, while left guard John Greco and right guard Shawn Lauvao lined up with the top offensive unit.
• Perennial Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas was involved in an altercation with defensive lineman Brian Sanford late in practice.
“It was just heated tension, that’s all,” Sanford said. “Somebody pushed me. It just happened.”
• Cornerback Chris Owens picked off starting quarterback Brandon Weeden in an 11-on-11 drill.
• Kicker Shayne Graham pushed a 38-yard field goal attempt so far wide to the right, it missed the protective netting behind the uprights and landed on top of a tent.
• Haden frantically danced to rap music while catching a dozen footballs fired from the Jugs gun, only dropping one.
• Wide receiver Josh Cooper muffed a potential touchdown pass from Brian Hoyer after sprinting past Johnson Bademosi and Leon McFadden in the secondary.
• Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III sported a gray, logoless team shirt and brown shorts at practice. His wife, Dee, wore an orange blouse with Brownie the Elf on it.
• A two-story, temporary hospitality suite — similar to those found at PGA Tour events — has been erected on the northeast side of the practice fields.
Nose tackle Phil Taylor (strained calf) and tight end Kellen Davis (sprained knee) did not practice, but Chudzinski said he wasn’t concerned about either player and listed them as day-to-day. Second-year pro John Hughes filled in for Taylor.
• Wide receiver David Nelson (reconstructive knee surgery) and tackle Chris Faulk (reconstructive knee surgery) are on the active/physically unable to perform list.
• Wide receiver Josh Gordon received treatment for a left lower leg cramp late in practice and did not return, while wide receiver Travis Benjamin tweaked a leg muscle.
Fun with numbers
Three Browns wide receivers have changed uniform numbers. Gordon has switched from No. 13 to No. 12, which was previously worn by quarterback Colt McCoy.
Greg Little and Davone Bess traded jerseys, leaving Little with No. 18 and Bess with his preferred No. 15. There was a cash transaction involved, but Little declined to say how much.
“I was OK with it, though,” Little said. “I wore No. 8 in college, so this isn’t too far from that.”
Quote of the day
“Half of the young guys on this team don’t even know who (Haslam) is. If he was sitting right next to them, they would still be more concerned about finding out where to eat.” — Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson.
Quote of the day II
“Our family is committed to owning the Browns for a very, very long time. There is absolutely no worry about cash flow.” — Haslam.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.