Trent Richardson struggled so much in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium that Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur sat him for the second half of the Browns' 17-13 loss to Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
Almost immediately, the Twittersphere blew up with speculation over whether Richardson was truly injured or his benching was just about poor play after he managed only eight yards on eight carries in the first half. He also caught two passes for 11 yards.
In his own defense, Richardson claims he was definitely hurting.
"Pat knows what's best. He made his decision. I think he made a great decision. It's something I've got to deal with it," he added.
But not everyone was buying the injury angle. Pro Football Talk tweeted:
Trent Richardson wasn't injured, wasn't effective wp.me/p14QSB-67Jg— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 21, 2012
Richardson (ribs) started the road game, but Coach Pat Shurmur saw all he needed to see in the first half, sitting the rookie for the last 30 minutes.
Richardson left last week's victory over the Bengals with the injury. He practiced all week, but was playing in a flak jacket.
Fantasyguru.com was not buying either.
Trent Richardson was essentially benched b/c he wasn't effective with his injury. No way of really knowing, since he worked out all week.— FantasyGuru.com (@Fantasy_Guru) October 21, 2012
Through six games, Richardson has 348 yards on 103 carries with three touchdowns.
Richardson handled the ball on the first three snaps of the game and told Shurmur he did not need to come out. But after the game, he said Shurmur made the right call.
Impossible to tell if Richardson was pulled because of the lingering effect of his injury or simply poor performance.
But given that he practiced all week, it looks like Shurmur was likely sending a message to his star rookie that more was expected of him.