Browns running back Trent Richardson returned to practice Monday. However his status for the team’s preseason opener remains uncertain.
Richardson had been held out of Cleveland’s two previous training camp sessions with a bruised right shin.
The injury occurred Thursday when the 5-foot-9, 230-pounder was inadvertently kicked in the lower leg by a teammate.
Though Richardson has vowed to play in all four preseason games, coach Rob Chudzinski was non-committal about his availability when the Browns host the St. Louis Rams on Thursday.
”It was good to have him back out there, but I have not decided anything about Thursday night in regard to Trent,” Chudzinski said. ”Yes, we want to work him back in, but we are going to be smart with him, just like we’ve been saying all along.”
Richardson wore full pads during the 2 1/2-hour practice at Cleveland’s team headquarters, working in his usual spot on the first-team offense. Dion Lewis and Brandon Jackson served as his backups.
The third overall pick of the 2012 draft did not participate in any two-minute drills, but did log limited repetitions on goal-line plays behind quarterback Brandon Weeden.
”That was what we wanted to do today with Trent because we have a plan for him, in a general sense, to try and keep him healthy,” Chudzinski said. ”We want him to be able to work to get better, and be able to come out here on a daily basis during training camp.”
The Browns are being extra careful with Richardson because he missed a handful of offseason workouts and their entire June minicamp with a strained lower right shin.
The former Alabama standout admitted being frustrated with Chudzinski’s decision to rest him over the weekend, saying his latest shin problem ”ain’t nothing.”
Richardson started 15 games last season despite suffering several broken ribs and torn chest cartilage against Cincinnati on Oct. 14. He sat out the Browns’ season finale at Pittsburgh on Dec. 30 with an ankle injury.
Richardson rushed for a team-high 950 yards and caught 51 passes in 2012 – setting a Cleveland rookie record with 12 touchdowns – and is expected to play an even bigger role in the offense this fall under coordinator Norv Turner.
”Now that Trent is practicing again, we’ll go from there,” Chudzinski said. ”We’ll see how he looks tomorrow and Wednesday, then make a decision about what we’re going to do against St. Louis.”
The health of starting right guard Shawn Lauvao also is in question after he was taken off the field on a cart. The 6-3, 315-pounder injured his left ankle during a one-on-one drill against nose tackle Phil Taylor.
Chudzinski said he will update Lauvao’s condition on Tuesday.
”Shawn did put a little weight on it when they helped him up, so I think he just rolled his ankle,” left tackle Jason Pinkston said. ”That’s what it appeared like, at least. We’re just wishing the best for him.”
Notes: SS T.J. Ward (hamstring) and FS Jamoris Slaughter (hamstring) returned to action. .. RB Montario Hardesty (hamstring), WR David Nelson (knee), FB Brad Smelley (hamstring), FB Brock Bolen (calf), RT Oniel Cousins (ankle), RT Ryan Miller (concussion), and LT Chris Faulk (knee) did not practice. Hardesty is listed second on the depth chart behind Richardson.