Trent Richardson has a point to prove.
The Cleveland Browns rookie, who will provide a stiff test to an inconsistent Indianapolis Colts run defense Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, was thought to be the best all-around running back available in the 2012 National Football League draft.
Still, he had a few doubters. The loudest questions came from Browns Hall of Famer Jim Brown, who questioned Richardson’s overall skills.
“I think the kid is a good working back, and if you’ve got everything else around him he can play his role,” Brown told reporters in May. “But when it comes to outstanding, I don’t see anything outstanding about him. It’s not said in a cruel manner. He’s very efficient, and that’s what you want.”
He went on to say that Richardson, who was a star at Alabama, lacks special running back traits while characterizing Richardson’s speed and quickness as ordinary.
“He’ll work hard for you, and he’s kind of an all-around back,” Brown said. “But if you look at Cleveland, I would have gotten me a couple of receivers.”
Tough words from an NFL, and franchise, icon.
The two finally had a meeting of the minds last month after the Browns had faced off against the Buffalo Bills. Richardson says that while he understands the points that Jim Brown was attempting to make, the stinging comments didn’t fall on deaf ears.
“The Jim Brown comments did not go in one ear and out the other. It stayed in my head and it’s still in there to this day,” he said. “He really just made me work harder. What he was saying, a lot of people took it the wrong way, what he was saying was, ‘Hey it’s not college anymore,’ just like when you get to college, people say it’s not high school anymore.
“You’ve got to make your name here. You’ve got to let your presence be known. So whatever you do, you’ve got to make sure you do it loudly and make sure you stay consistent. You’ve got to make your name and you’ve got to stand strong in the league because you can get embarrassed real fast in this league if you think you’re going to come in and live off your college days.”
And his talk with Brown?
“I had a chance to talk to him and meet with him. He was real proud of me and he told me to just keep doing what you’re doing and with the way I’m going, the sky’s the limit for me,” Richardson said. “He said he saw a lot of him in me and that was big coming from Jim Brown and him telling me stuff like that and giving me advice. So that was big for me.”
Browns coach Pat Shurmur likes what he’s seen of his first-year running back so far.
“He’s very valuable. I think he’s a player that again established himself in the college ranks and he’s found a way to have some production here in the first games,” Shurmur said. “I do think he’ll continue to improve and when you have a guy you can hand it to who has a feel for getting the end zone, of course it helps your offense.”
• Injury list — The good news is that inside linebacker Pat Angerer will make his first appearance in a regular season game Sunday. The bad news, though, is that the Colts will be without outside linebacker Robert Mathis (knee), defensive end Cory Redding (knee), defensive tackle Fili Moala (knee) and nose tackle Martin Tevasue (ankle).
Angerer has been sidelined since the first preseason game after suffering a fractured foot. He practiced for a short time a couple of weeks ago but tweaked the injury.
Interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Friday that Angerer will play but not start against the Browns. The former Iowa linebacker will participate in the Colts’ base defense but that his time on the field will be limited. Jerrell Freeman will start at one inside linebacking position along with Kavell Conner.
Also sidelined Sunday will be cornerback Darius Butler (shoulder) and running back Donald Brown (knee). Cornerback Vontae Davis (ankle) is expected to return and will most likely be in the starting lineup. Davis has been sidelined the last three weeks.
Offensive guard Joe Reitz (knee), offensive tackle Winston Justice (ankle) and outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (ankle) are questionable. Justice and Freeney, though, are both expected to start.