By Tom Withers | Associated Press
BEREA -- Trent Richardson has that unassuming way. With his bright smile, cheerful attitude and a soft Southern accent, the Browns running back makes anything sound diplomatic.
Richardson did everything he could Thursday not to criticize Cleveland's coaches for not giving him the ball more last week in a loss to Miami. But Richardson's message was loud clear: He wants more touches.
Richardson carried the ball 13 times for 47 yards in the season-opening, 23-10 loss to Miami. But he only gained 14 on five rushes in the second half, and did not carry the ball once in the fourth quarter as the Browns tried to rally through the air.
"I just don't think they stopped the running game," he said, referring to the Dolphins. "I think we stopped it ourselves as far as we were behind and stuff like that. We've just got to keep fighting and know that no matter what, we've got to stick to our game plan. I guess Coach had another game plan and it went that way."
Richardson's remarks were similar to what he said many times last season, when he rushed for 950 yards while playing much of it with broken ribs. Richardson wants a heavier workload and feels he can carry the offense. Trouble is, the former first-round pick has either been injured or the Browns have been so far behind in games that they've had to pass.
But the numbers support Richardson's' premise that Browns are at their best when he's getting the ball.
Last season, he averaged 95.8 yards in the five games he had 20 rushing attempts, and the Browns went 3-2. When he hasn't carried the ball 20 times, including in this year's opener, he's averaging 47.1 yards and Cleveland is 2-9.
Richardson said he has spoken to coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner about getting more touches.
Richardson received the ball on four of Cleveland's first six plays last week and gained 26 yards. But the opening drive ended with quarterback Brandon Weeden getting intercepted.
After that, Richardson's opportunities were limited.
"I just thought that we were gonna run the ball," he said, "and I thought it could be a real good day. I just knew that we could run the ball on any team. I feel like it's going to be a fight down to the finish and we were going to win."
Maybe if things had gone according to script, Turner would have given Richardson the ball more. But the score and situation dictated something different.
"We came out and we executed four or five plays awfully well," Turner said. "Then they hit us with a couple run blitzes. They came at us when we started getting a little bit of run and then we didn't execute as well."
Richardson's number is certain to be called this week as the Browns (0-1) visit the Baltimore Ravens, who have had plenty of time to lick their wounds after being embarrassed against Denver.
The Ravens' defense no longer features Ray Lewis, or Ed Reed, but is still formidable.
"It's Baltimore," Richardson said. "What game is there where you don't get more pumped up? You're playing the champions from last year and that defense. It's more talent than I have ever seen."
Richardson, who rushed for 105 yards on 25 attempts in his second game against Baltimore last season, is itching to duplicate that game. He can't though, if he doesn't get the ball.
"It's something that you practice for," he said. "All my life, I've been that guy. So when it comes down to it, at the end of the day, I control what I can control. But if it's going to help the team out that I get less carries, if it's going to help the team out that I get more carries, I'm all for it."
— Safety T.J. Ward returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday with a sore shoulder.
— DE Ahtyba Rubin (calf) and G Shawn Lauvao (ankle) remain sidelined and are unlikely to play this week.
— Defensive coordinator Ray Horton hopes to "ease" rookie LB Barkevious Mingo into his NFL debut this week. Mingo missed the opener after bruising his lung last month in an exhibition game. "I don't want to overload him his first game, but I also want to give him some soft pitches to hit," Horton said. "I want to give him some less thinking and more reaction-type stuff."