|If the Browns are going to have any success in 2012, they'll need Richardson and Weeden. (US PRESSWIRE)|
We've noted before that the offseason is a time for hope especially for those fans, coaches and players associated with the NFL's less successful franchises. Well, the football gods appear to be once again frowning on the Browns even before they play their first preseason game.
On Wednesday, not only were there reports that cornerback Joe Haden could be suspended for a failed drug test, the team's first-round pick, running back Trent Richardson, has more than just a sore knee. Coach Pat Shurmur provides the details in a statement released by the team: “Richardson is traveling to Pensacola, Fla., where he will have his left knee further evaluated by Dr. James Andrews (Thursday).”
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Players don't typically pay a visit to Andrews for run-of-the-mill soreness.
The Akron Beacon-Journal's Nate Ulrich writes that Richardson, taken third overall in April, had arthroscopis surgery on the same knee February 3 to repair torn meniscus cartilage. Dr. Andrews was the surgeon.
And the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot guesses that Richardson "will need minor cleanup on left knee." Whatever the case, Shurmur was frank when asked about Richardson's situation Tuesday: “I'm always concerned about injuries.”
And he should be. The Browns will be relying heavily on Richardson and rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden (also a 2012 first-rounder). If this season is as disappointing as the previous few, there's a good chance Shurmur, team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert will be looking for work next January. New owner Jimmy Haslam's first question to Holmgren was "Can Brandon Weeden play?" And if he can't -- or if the Browns stumble through another uninspiring four months of football -- the organization could be overhauled next spring.
So, yeah. Here's to hoping Richardson's back on the field soon. Because this team has enough to worry about when everybody's healthy. If their best players are sidelined for any length of time it's not a stretch to see this outfit going 1-15. (Upside: Matt Barkley in 2013!)
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