On Tuesday, it was revealed that Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson's lower leg strain, which initially was thought to only keep him out of this month's minicamp, will now also cause him to miss part of training camp as well. According to Will Burge of ESPN Cleveland, Richardson won't be taking the field for drills until August, with the Browns concerned that the strain could otherwise turn into a stress fracture.
The leg strain is the latest in a string of injuries that Richardson has dealt with since being drafted by the Browns third overall in 2012. First, Richardson underwent a knee procedure last summer that caused him to miss training camp and the preseason. Then, Richardson suffered broken ribs that affected his productivity for the entirety of the year.
In addition to the leg strain, Burge also notes that Richardson has been suffering from chronic migraines, and the medication, along with his inability to work out, has caused him to lose weight. Considering that Richardson is one of the centerpieces of the Browns' new-look, attack-style offense, this missed time has Browns fans worried that Richardson might be too fragile to ever be fully effective in the NFL.
Though the new injury is something to be concerned about—it's never good for a star player to miss practice time—it's not the end of the world for the Browns just yet. In fact, considering Richardson's injury, it's only right that he misses minicamp and part of training camp, and it doesn't mean he won't make a major impact on the field once the regular season commences.
For all of Richardson's injuries, he's tough—he rushed 267 times in his rookie season for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 51 passes for 367 yards and another score, despite spending much of the season hobbled with those broken ribs.
The goal of holding him out of practices through the start of training camp in late July is to have him fully healthy by Week 1. Even if that means he misses most of camp and does not play in the preseason, he should still be able to handle running back duties once the regular season begins. If he wasn't held out, however, and the leg strain did progress into a stress fracture, then his entire year could be in doubt.
The only time to really start worrying about Richardson's 2013 season is if he does return to practice and the injury recurs or worsens. While it's disconcerting that yet again Richardson is dealing with more health issues, as long as they are addressed and put behind him, then there's nothing wrong with him missing practice.
In fact, the missed practice should be of least concern. The bigger worry is the weight loss from Richardson's inability to do some weight-lifting activities.
Richardson's biggest asset as a running back is his size and power and any dip in either of them could render him less effective—a few pounds could easily translate into a few yards, and if those yards are on third-and-short, you can see the issue. Richardson must find a way to bulk back up without risking further injury to his leg, and hopefully the Browns' strength and conditioning staff will be able to devise a program for him that does just that.
But for now, in the first few days of June, there's nothing Browns fans can do but wait and hope that this period of relative rest will result in a 100 percent healthy Richardson once he's able to return to full practice later in the summer.
What happens once he does will be the real time to take notice. Until then, we can only assume that the Browns' decision to rest Richardson will completely heal his leg strain, prevent it from recurring or worsening and allow him to eventually take the field ready to run over opposing defenses as we've seen him do in the past.