When discussing the Colts’ 17-13 win over the Browns, we mentioned that Browns running back Trent Richardson didn’t have a carry in the second half of the game and wondered if he might have wound up re-injuring the ribs that forced him out of last week’s victory over the Bengals.
Coach Pat Shurmur was asked about Richardson’s absence. The good news for the Browns is that their first-round pick didn’t re-injure his ribs, make the injury worse or pick up any new injury. The bad news is that Shurmur just benched Richardson in favor of Montario Hardesty because the coach felt that Richardson was ineffective.
Richardson had eight yards on eight carries in the first half and added 11 yards on two catches. Hardesty wound up with 28 yards on seven carries, so it seems that Shurmur made the right choice in terms of effectiveness. The Browns offense missed the balance that they’d ideally like to have each week with Richardson healthy and in the lineup. It’s reasonable to believe that Richardson’s ribs might have contributed to his ineffective outing, but they weren’t the reason for his absence all by themselves.
According to Will Burge of ESPN Cleveland, Richardson flipped between saying he was okay to go back into the game and saying the coaches made the right decision to leave him on the bench.
It will be interesting to see how the Browns go from here. Their long-term interests are best served by Richardson getting as much action as possible, but they might feel Hardesty is giving them a better chance to win right now. There’s plenty of temptation to go that route in Cleveland right now, which will make their call going forward one worth watching.