There’s not doubt that Trent Richardson came into the 2012 NFL Draft out of Alabama with enough promise to match the hype. He is a bruising rusher with inherent quickness that allows him to be the type of back that could play all three downs and carry the majority of the workload. With word coming out today that Richardson will be out until August with a shin injury, discussion has already begun about whether he’s already being labeled as injury-prone.
According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Richardson suffered a lower leg muscle strain after having his leg stepped on by a teammate during practice two weeks ago. As a precautionary measure, he will sit out all of mini-camp and not return until training camp in August at the earliest. What part of August remains to be seen, but Browns’ head coach Rob Chudzinski is confident and expects Richardson to be ready for the start of camp.
The way the injury is being described, this actually sounds a bit more like a bone bruise than a muscle strain, as the mechanism of injury (being stepped on) and the precautionary concern (not wanting it to turn into a fracture) is much more consistent with a bone contusion (bruise) than it is with a muscular issue. When this type of injury occurs, rest and modalities are typically the best bet to help calm down inflammation and promote/speed up the healing process, as excessive weight bearing and force imparted on the injured bone would significantly slow down the healing process. Barring further diagnostic testing that shows otherwise, Richardson should be back in time for training camp.
What do we make of this guy? By all accounts, he’s a borderline first round pick in fantasy drafts this coming season and is expected to be one of the few running backs around the league that gets 90+% of his team’s carries. But with the nagging injuries he’s already dealt with (knee surgery, migraines, broken ribs, sprained ankle) over the last year, it’s becoming harder and harder to feel comfortable counting on him to last the entire season.
While I do believe this recent injury will not stop him from being ready for week 1 against the Dolphins (barring setback), I wouldn’t turn a blind eye to it just because it’s more minor in nature. Richardson remains a fantastic RB1 option, but he MUST be handcuffed (Montario Hardesty at the moment) in order to not get entirely burned by your #1 draft pick. Proceed with caution, but this guy still has tremendous upside and shouldn’t be dismissed…yet.