Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson practiced for the first time in nearly a month on Monday as the team prepared for Sunday’s season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Richardson, the third overall pick out of Alabama in April’s NFL Draft, has been sidelined since Aug. 9, when he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
Wearing a protective rubber sleeve over the knee, he looked smooth running drills during the 15-minute viewing portion of Monday’s practice and didn’t show any signs of limping, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
“If he’s ready to go, he will be our starter,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “Trent looked good. He was in team. I knew he’d be out here today and he did a good job. It was his first day back in practice, so we did what we could do. Trent looked healthy running around.”
Richardson is expected to play in the season opener, although his workload likely will be limited until his knee has added time to heal.
Cleveland drafted him with the expectation that his impressive blend of speed and power running would provide an instant lift to a Browns offense lacking in playmakers.
Richardson signed a four-year, $20.5 million contract last month that was fully guaranteed and included a signing bonus of $13.3 million.
Anticipation about his presence in the backfield became even greater with the designation of quarterback Brandon Weeden as the team’s starter. The Browns desperately want a running game to alleviate some of the pressure from Weeden.
Richardson underwent what the team termed “routine arthroscopic” surgery by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., on Aug. 9. Andrews had performed a similar procedure on Richardson on Feb. 3 to repair a torn meniscus the running back suffered in the same knee while playing for Alabama during its BCS national championship victory over LSU.
Richardson rushed for 3,130 yards and 35 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.