BEREA, Ohio (AP) — While breaking down game tape this week, Trent Richardson noticed some gaping holes in New York’s defense. He plans to run through them — and the Giants — Sunday.
The Browns rookie running back is aware the Philadelphia Eagles piled up 191 yards — 123 by LeSean McCoy, who got 121 in the second half — last week in a 19-17 win over the Giants. On a conference call with New York reporters, Richardson was asked if he thinks he can rack up some yards against the defending Super Bowl champions.
“Oh yeah,” he said.
Richardson doesn’t lack confidence. Now he just needs a few more blocks.
“If we put our hat on a number (block), just cover them up, I think we can get good yardage on them,” Richardson said. “But at the same time, I know they’re going to throw everything they can at us. I’m pretty sure they’re going to game plan around our running game, so we need to make sure we open up the passing game so we can get some good runs in.”
The winless Browns (0-4) will likely need a big game from the talented Richardson if they hope to snap a 10-game losing streak dating to last season.
Richardson has rushed for 222 yards on 64 carries this season, and the first-round running back seems to be getting stronger after missing the entire exhibition season after undergoing knee surgery. The Giants seem susceptible to the run, and Richardson hopes Cleveland’s offensive line can create some cracks in New York’s front seven.
“We have to run some outside zone and really need to cover number 90 (Jason Pierre-Paul) as much as we can, and big (Jason) Tuck,” Richardson said. “Both of those guys can bull rush and use their power and their quickness because those guys are two big guys that are very fast. I think that if we cover the edges and run hard, not doing all this juking and that, one move and go, I think we can have some success in the running game.”
Richardson missed practice on Friday to be with his girlfriend as she gave birth to his third child. Browns coach Pat Shurmur expects Richardson to travel with the team and play. Shurmur doesn’t think Richardson’s personal issues will have a negative impact on him giving a good performance.
“I’ve seen guys go through family situations, personal situations and come out and play outstanding games,” he said. “What’s important is that he tidies up on the preparation that he missed, which I know he will.”
Richardson should be well rested. The Browns haven’t played since Sept. 27, and the 10-day break has given him extra time to recover and prepare for the Giants defense, which is ranked just 23rd against the run.
Richardson had only 14 carries against the Ravens, and the Browns would like to get him as many touches as possible. To optimize Richardson, however, the Browns have to avoid falling behind and needing to throw to get back into the game. Richardson has only played four games, but he’s already noticed that teams are designing their game plan around stopping him.
“Most definitely,” the former Alabama star said. “That’s one thing they always have done. They’ve seen me play a little bit now, so they’re going to try to stop me more than anything now. But what makes it easier on our receivers. If (quarterback) Brandon (Weeden) has 300-some passing yards and we win the game, that’s good with me.
“If they key on me and we lose, I feel it’s my fault.”
Weeden knows it’s vital for Cleveland’s passing game to open up the field for Richardson. Without the threat of a passing attack, New York will just overload the line of scrimmage and make it hard to move.
“That’s when it’s my job to try to do some things to get into a pass or check out of a play and get us into a better play,” Weeden said. “You don’t want to run against eight-man boxes. You’re just running into a brick wall. Your optimal is just to create some space and let Trent do his thing. These guys, they like to play seven- and eight-man boxes, so we’ve just gotta take what they give us.”
Richardson plans to take us much as he can.
NOTES: Browns S T.J. Ward will play just a few days after undergoing surgery on a broken left thumb. Ward had nine screws inserted during the procedure. He’ll wear a protective immobilizing brace. “I can’t grab,” he said. “I don’t have a thumb. I have a few fingers free. I’ll just have to play normal. It’s a thumb. It’s not like my whole arm is gone.” … With Browns WRs Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin doubtful with hamstring injuries, rookie Josh Gordon will make his first start. Gordon has seven catches. … TE Alex Smith will miss his third straight game with a concussion.