Position thoughts: Running back

Posted by Vic Carucci on November 7, 2012 – 8:32 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

This is the second in a series of position-by-position thoughts on the Browns after nine games. In this installment, we take a look at running back:

>>Trent Richardson has shown the dynamic talent that he was expected to deliver as the third overall pick of the draft. He has the perfect blend of power and speed in a compact frame that does plenty to help him to explode through holes and move piles. He is a relentless runner, refusing to surrender regardless of how many defenders are on him. His toughness and supreme confidence are contagious among his offensive teammates.

>>Richardson has managed to make a significant mark on the Browns’ offense despite being hampered by injuries. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery that caused him to miss the entire preseason. Richardson lost valuable practice and preseason playing time to develop timing with his blockers and to gain a better understanding of the offense. Then, he suffered a rib injury that rendered him a non-factor against Indianapolis in Week 7. But Richardson rebounded with his first back-to-back 100-yard performances as a pro against San Diego and Baltimore. He has made a strong statement with his grit and toughness, overcoming pain and discomfort to be highly productive.

>>Although the Browns’ offense is mostly designed to set up the run with the pass, Richardson seems to be establishing more of a defined role. And that results from the coaches seeing his steadily increasing knowledge of the scheme and his responsibilities, a process hampered by his recovery from knee surgery. The Browns’ offense has functioned at its best when there has been a greater balance between the pass and the run.

>>Chris Ogbonnaya has been mostly solid as a third-down back. Coach Pat Shurmur likes him in that role primarily because he is the Browns’ best back at picking up the blitz. He also is a good receiver out of the backfield. Ogbonnaya made an uncharacteristic mistake by illegally lining up on the line of scrimmage and then trying to move back as the ball was snapped in Sunday’s game against the Ravens. He drew a penalty that wiped out a touchdown.

>>Since Richardson’s arrival, Montario Hardesty has become a mostly forgotten man. The closest he has come to making an impact was when he rushed for 56 yards on 15 carries in the Browns’ Week 6 victory against the Bengals.

>>The fullback position doesn’t have much of a role in the Browns’ offense. Tight end Alex Smith has supplanted Owen Marecic at fullback. Smith has been a solid blocker and has proven to be dependable as a check-down receiver.

>>The bye comes at a particularly good time for Richardson. He needs a couple of weeks to allow his ribs to heal.

>>Carucci’s Corner is presented by Panera Bread.

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>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/browns_daily, Twitter.com/viccarucci, e-mail: Daily@ClevelandBrowns.com, or by calling 855-363-2459.

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