The Trent Richardson trade is only looking better and better for the Cleveland Browns.
BEREA, Ohio - As Trent Richardson dodged, darted and destroyed everything in his path on the way to the end zone last week in Cincinnati, Browns wide receiver Greg Little thought some of the Bengals looked scared.
"They don't want to tackle him," Little said.
Richardson made a simple play sensational.
Taking a short pass from quarterback Brandon Weeden, Richardson sidestepped one defender, powered through another and made a few others look silly while scoring an unforgettable, did-he-really-just-do-that 23-yard TD. In a matter of seconds, the rookie running back turned his second NFL game into a coming-out party.
It looked easy, too easy. College easy.
"When a guy's got it, he's got it," Browns defensive end Frostee Rucker said. "That guy's got it."
Richardson, who looked slow and hesitant in Cleveland's season opener against Philadelphia, finished with 109 rushing yards on 19 carries last week. He added four catches for 36 yards while providing a glimpse into a future that seems limitless.
Richardson also looked fully recovered from surgery on his left knee that sidelined him for the entire preseason and may have contributed to him gaining just 39 yards on 19 carries against the Eagles, who may encounter a very different player the next time they face the Browns (0-2).
Richardson felt like a different man in Week 2.
"Coming into the game the first Sunday, I'd never been hit before," he said. "It was a reaction of me being extra cautious about my knee and stuff. The second week I was more confident. I was just ready to go."
Once he got rolling, the Bengals had a hard time stopping him. Richardson scored his first career TD on a 32-yard run in the first half, cutting right and patiently picking up several good blocks before outracing a bunch of Bengals and vaulting across the goal line with an unplanned flip.
By the second half, the Bengals were wearing down. Richardson was getting stronger.
"You could just see how he progressed through the game," Little said. "He runs harder as the game goes on and everybody could see it. We were talking about it on the sideline, `Keep running, bro. They don't want to tackle you."'
And as the Browns are learning, Richardson doesn't want to come out of the game.
At various points during each of the first two games, Cleveland's coaches, concerned they might be working him too hard, have asked Richardson if he wants to take a break. Whenever he's approached, Richardson said he gives the same quick response.
"I'm good," he said.
Do they ever question you?
"No, they just let it go," Richardson said with a smile. "They never question me at all."
Browns coach Pat Shurmur joked that he won't bring up the idea of a substitute with Richardson during this week's game against Buffalo (1-1) -- or ever again.
"I can see right away that I'm just going to quit asking him," Shurmur said. "He's a competitive guy and he's not the kind of guy who taps out. I don't want our guys tapping out. But we as coaches keep an eye on him, and if we can get a fresh guy in there we try to do that.
"With Trent, I think that's good for our team and our city. You're looking for guys that are passionate, productive and stay durable. He's got all of those things."
Richardson ran with more confidence in Week 2, mostly because he wasn't worried about re-injuring his knee after taking a few hard shots from the Eagles. Everything seemed easier, and the Browns' offense, which managed just 201 yards in the opener, amassed 439 yards in the 34-27 loss.
Weeden threw for 322 yards as he and Richardson became the first rookie duo to get 300 passing yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game since 1996.
"The game slowed down, we were all on the same page and the offense was up and running," Richardson said. "And that's something we've got to continue doing. We've got to do it much better this week, because we've got to put up more points. We've got to win. All of them yards that Brandon threw for, all of them yards that I ran for, it don't mean nothing if you're not winning, so we've got a lot to prove."
Shurmur has hinted at increasing Richardson's workload, meaning he will likely stay on the field for some third downs. Chris Ogbonnaya was primarily used in those situations last week.
If Richardson's needed more, he's ready to give more.
"If coach calls on me to go in on third down," he said. "I'll be ready."
No one seemed ready for Richardson's stunning TD last week. It left Bengals sprawled on the field, dropped jaws around the league and had some of his teammates begging for more.
"The big thing on that play was him never stopping," Browns center Alex Mack said. "He was always fighting for that one extra yard and that one extra yard turned into 10 for a touchdown. His feet kept
moving and he was always driving. He never gave up and that's what you want to see. Blocking for someone who does that is exciting. "
On his way back to the sideline, the 5-foot-9, 230-pound Richardson flexed his massive biceps, showing off muscles that may be big enough to pull the Browns all the way back to relevancy.
"Hey," Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown said, "he was a great draft pick for this team. We're going to lean on him to make those kind of plays for a long time. "
NOTES: Brown has had his role reduced, but he's not complaining. Brown said he's "not going to be a distraction" and he's willing to be a mentor for the team's young defensive backs, who struggled last week in Cincinnati. "I'm here to help this team," said Brown, who has played in 162 consecutive games. ... S Ray Ventrone hopes to play this week despite undergoing surgery on a broken thumb last week. Ventrone has been practicing in a soft cast the past two days.
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