When players are injured, they rarely want to talk to the media. But, after sitting out Thursday's practice with a strained muscle in his shin, Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson seemed determined to set the record straight.
"It's not going to be like last year, being hurt and injured," Richardson said. "Injury prone is not going to be me. I just can't wait to get back out and running."
The problem is, when it comes to the "injury-prone" label, you can't shed it by talking about it. Richardson has to get out on the field and prove he can remain healthy for more than half a season.
By all accounts, this latest injury is a minor one. Head coach Rob Chudzinski emphasized the Browns are being conservative with him. Richardson said it didn't warrant an MRI. If there was a game on Sunday, he probably would play.
The only reason why Richardon's injury is an issue is his history. In 13 months with the Browns, Richardson has had four injuries that have caused him to miss time on the practice field or in games.
Here's a quick rundown:
In August, Richardson had a procedure on his left knee to remove a loose piece of cartilage. It caused him to miss the entire preseason.
On Oct. 14 against the Bengals, he broke two ribs and played the rest of the season with a protective jacket. The injury forced him to miss the second half of two games.
On Dec. 24 against the Broncos, Richardson suffered a mild high ankle sprain and left the stadium in a walking boot. This sidelined him for the season finale.
Last week at practice, Richardson pulled a muscle in his lower leg and could miss next week's mandatory minicamp. The expectation is for Richardson to be ready for training camp in late July.
Based on his track record, you could make a convincing argument that Richardson has been injury prone in his short time with the Browns. It seems like Richardson hasn't been healthy since he signed his rookie contract with Cleveland. But I would give Richardson another season before lumping him in the same injury-prone category as Ryan Mathews and Reggie Bush. If Richardson can't stay healthy in his second season, even Richardson himself couldn't deny being injury prone.
Durability was the concern when the Browns drafted him No. 3 overall last year. But there is a difference between being injury prone and being soft. No one can accuse Richardson of being the latter after he averaged 21.7 touches while playing 10 games with broken ribs.
Still, Richardson won't be able to reach his potential if he's trying to shake off injuries and tacklers at the same time. It was admirable that Richardson was able to run for 950 yards and score 12 touchdowns with all of those injuries last season. But injuries obviously affected his average yards per carry (3.6) and his effectiveness down the stretch.
Chudzinski said the team isn't concerned about Richardson's history of injuries.
"I know he is healthy from all the things from this past season," Chudzinski said. "This is just something that we are working through and he will be fine.”