BEREA — Running back Trent Richardson got the news he’d been waiting for … from a group of reporters.
He will play in the preseason for the first time Thursday against the Lions at FirstEnergy Stadium. Coach Rob Chudzinski said he’ll play a couple of series.
“Oh, he told you I’m playing? Hey, I’m surprised like y’all and I’m happy and I can’t wait to get up out there,” Richardson said Tuesday after practice. “I kind of had a feeling he was going to say yeah today because he had me going in there with the ones today, so it felt good when I was out there and I’m happy Coach told y’all I can play.”
Richardson was held out of the opener last week as part of the team’s plan to keep him healthy and make sure he’s ready for the regular season, which starts Sept. 8 against Miami. He had been limited in team drills before taking numerous repetitions and handoffs Tuesday.
Richardson had also been dealing with a sore right shin after being kicked during practice two weeks ago. He was held out of minicamp in June with a muscle strain in the same shin, but says he’s completely healthy.
“It’s a big relief,” he said. “I want to play all the time and I’m just real happy with the decision Coach has made.
“I just want to get the timing down with the offensive line, game speed and game conditioning and just being in there with my team and just get back in the groove. It’s been awhile since I played a real football game so I can’t wait to just get up out there and get that feeling again.”
Richardson missed the preseason as a rookie last year after arthroscopic knee surgery. He returned to start the first 15 games and rush for 950 yards, a 3.6 average and 11 touchdowns. He played with broken ribs for nine games before missing the finale with an ankle injury.
“It’ll be nice for him to get out there and have him back in the backfield and do some things,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said. “He’s healthy and I think he feels good and I’m excited to have him back.”
Backup running back Montario Hardesty, who’s fighting to keep a roster spot, returned to practice a day after dislocating his right thumb and leaving practice. He had the thumb heavily padded and declined to talk to reporters.
He participated in individual drills but no 11-on-11. He held a ball in the injured hand while watching.
Hardesty won’t play against the Lions and Chudzinski said the team will see about next week in Indianapolis.
• Fullback Brock Bolen (calf) and defensive lineman Hall Davis (hamstring) returned to practice.
• Receiver David Nelson (knee), cornerback Leon McFadden (groin) and offensive linemen Ryan Miller (concussion) and Chris Faulk (knee) remained out.
The starters will play at least a quarter and a half and possibly the entire first half against the Lions, Chudzinski said. The starting offense and defense played two series each against the Rams.
Chudzinski also announced that rookie Brandon Bogotay will handle all the kicking Thursday.
“We want to give him an opportunity to be put in a situation where he has to kick them all,” Chudzinski said.
Bogotay is 12 years younger than his competition, Shayne Graham, and has a stronger leg. He will be given the opportunity to win or lose the job.
“It’ll be him going through that process of playing a whole game,” Chudzinski said. “Doing the kickoffs, do the extra points, do the field goals, have to turn around and be ready for when certain situations come up. Just give him a chance to show he can handle that.”
Bogotay is excited.
“Absolutely, I love it,” he said. “It’s a great way to prepare for the regular season and it’s a great opportunity for me as well.”
Chudzinski wouldn’t commit to giving Graham all the kicks in the third preseason game, but described the competition as “pretty tight” and a “day-to-day thing.”
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