When the Cleveland Browns drafted Trent Richardson with the third pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, he was expected to be the focal point of the team's offense. Now that the Alabama running back is recovering from knee surgery, the pressure on rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has grown tremendously.
As things stand right now, the Browns aren't sure Richardson will be back for Week 1 of the regular season and that means Weeden will have to step up and be better than he has during the preseason so far. After two exhibition games, Weeden has completed 15-of-29 passes (51.7 percent) for 180 yards, no touchdowns and two turnovers.
Weeden has a very nice arm and can certainly throw the football, but he's still developing as far as reading defenses go. With an inexperienced receiving corps around him, it's hard to see Weeden being an impact starting quarterback this season.
Richardson needs to get healthy and quickly. When at 100 percent, he has the power, speed, moves and vision to be as good as anyone at the position.
After studying hours of tape on Richardson leading up to this year's draft, I'm convinced he can be one of the top three running backs in the NFL by his second or third season in the league.
Richardson will take a tremendous amount of pressure off of Weeden just by being on the field. The Browns need him back as soon as possible because their 28-year-old franchise quarterback still needs time to develop chemistry with his receivers and must get better at reading opposing defenses. Having a strong running game based around Richardson will make things a whole lot easier for Weeden.
The rookie running back's health directly impacts the Browns' entire offense and the team needs him back quickly.