Can Paul Richardson return in 2012?

A little late afternoon news for those of you partaking in the cocktail hour. (Or non-news, depending on how much faith you put in Western medicine).

As these things often do, it started with a tweet from Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson, who sent out this message Tuesday afternoon:

"I was cleared by my doctor and trainers to start running today and I'm not even 3 months out of surgery yet #Blessed"

Great news. But maybe a tad misleading. The tweet prompted Colorado to issue the following statement from trainer Miguel Rueda:

"Paul was cleared for straight-ahead jogging and running. He's not at the point where he can make cuts, run routes, etc. He is progressing nicely and faster than expected, but it's too early to predict what his status is for the upcoming season. We'll monitor his progress, but whether he can play in any or all of the games this fall can't be determined for some time yet."

You'll recall that Richardson, Colorado's marquee playmaker heading into the 2012 season, tore his ACL during the last week of spring drills (April 9) and had surgery a week later. The standard rehab period for a torn ACL is 9-12 months, so the assumption was that he'd be gone for all of 2012.

From Rueda's statement, it sounds like the window is at least slightly open for a return this season, but you have to wonder whether it's worth him coming back mid-to-late season in what is expected to be a rebuilding year for the Buffs.

Richardson caught 39 balls for 555 yards and five touchdowns last season -- which included a monster game of 11 catches for 284 yards and two touchdowns against Cal. He missed four games last year with a strained knee and finished third on the team in receiving.