CLEVELAND — A blue afternoon for the Browns ended a little brighter as coach Pat Shurmur said the team is “hopeful” running back Trent Richardson will be able to play in the season opener.
Noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews is scheduled to perform an arthroscopic procedure on Richardson’s left knee on Thursday.
“We’re hopeful he’ll be back quickly,” Shurmur said after the team’s Family Night practice at the stadium.
Hopeful is the key word.
The other part of the Browns’ blue afternoon involved cornerback Joe Haden, whose status for the first four games of the season appears murky due to a failed drug test.
Haden faces a four-game suspension for failing an offseason drug test for Adderall. Haden is normally upbeat and chatty, but he said little and looked shaken as he spoke.
“It’s a league matter,” he said. “I can’t comment on that right now.”
Adderall can be prescribed, but it is banned because it is a stimulant. Haden was asked several times to address the story, first reported by ESPN-Cleveland.com.
He declined several times.
Shurmur and new owner Jimmy Haslam both said they were not aware of the details of Haden’s situation.
“I don’t know anything about what was reported,” Shurmur said. “And if I did I wouldn’t be allowed to talk about it.”
Shurmur said, though, that players are well aware what they are allowed to take and what they are not allowed to take.
“Our players are well aware what they can and can’t put in their bodies,” Shurmur said, making clear he was not speaking specifically about Haden but generally about league policy. “That’s one of the indoctrinations to this league. They all know that they are responsible for what goes in their bodies.”
Haden can appeal the suspension. Adderall is used in the treatment of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Giants safety Tyler Sash recently was suspended four games for testing positive for the same substance.
“I’m not going to say anything,” Haden said when asked if he expected to play in the season opener Sept. 9 against the Eagles.
He looked like he hadn’t slept in three days.
Richardson, the third overall pick in the draft, traveled to Florida to visit the man who has been his doctor since high school. Andrews was the surgeon who repaired torn ligaments in both of Richardson’s ankles when he was in high school. Thursday’s procedure is scheduled to remove a very small loose piece of cartilage from his left knee.
It’s believed Richardson could play in a month. But it’s the second surgery he’s had on the knee cartilage in eight months, which prompts some concern. The Browns have been counting on Richardson to help transform a moribund offense.
“I don’t know how much time he’s going to miss,” Shurmur said. “But we’re hopeful that he’ll be back quickly.”
Shurmur later said the team was hopeful to have Richardson back by the opener.
“We will know more (Thursday),” Shurmur said.
Missing time in preseason is more significant to a rookie than it is to a veteran. Richardson needs to learn the offense — the running schemes, the blocking, and pass routes. A back can step in and run, but the more a rookie misses in preseason the more it could slow his growth and affect the offense.
“Obviously he’s going to be a great player,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said. “But I think he’ll be back soon and we’ve got other guys who can step in and pick up right where he left off.”
Montario Hardesty will start Friday in the preseason opener in Detroit, with Brandon Jackson and Chris Ogbonnaya also playing.
“As physical a game as this is, it’s part of it unfortunately,” Weeden said. “Yeah, he would have taken a lot of pressure off me, but so will these other guys.
“We’ve got a lot of good backs.”
In typical Browns fashion, the news about two of the team’s more prominent players broke the same day the new owner was in town for his first full day working in the team facility.
Haslam, though, said he spent the day in business meetings and was not that involved with the Richardson and Haden issues.
“That’s part of football,” he said. “You’re going to have some bad breaks and some good breaks, but I’m confident listening to everybody that we have a good young team that’s headed in the right direction.”
Haslam referred to Richardson’s situation as “a little knee issue,” and said he was not aware of any details about Haden.
But he did his best to calm frazzled nerves of those who follow the Browns.
“It probably hurts a team like us that’s younger and maybe (has) a little less depth,” Haslam said. “But we’re building a good team. We’re doing it for the long run. We’re doing it the right way.
“We’re not going to panic … (We are going to do) the right things that bring a winner to Cleveland over the long period of time.”