BEREA, Ohio — Not quite into his second NFL season, Browns running back Trent Richardson has already undergone knee surgery, broken some ribs, hurt his ankle and strained a muscle in his shin.
He's been battered and bruised, but Richardson is confident he'll be able to stay on the field this year and the remainder of his career.
Don't you dare put a label on him.
"Injury prone," he said, "is not going to be me."
Richardson missed practice on Thursday with a strain in his lower right leg he sustained while running last week. Although the injury isn't believed to be serious, the Browns are being extra careful with the former first-round pick, who may sit out next week's minicamp as well.
"It ain't no biggie," Richardson said. "It ain't nothing to worry about. I could be out there but they want to be cautious about it and make sure I'm right for training camp."
As his teammates went through the final session of organized team activities under first-year coach Rob Chudzinski, Richardson worked off to the side on his conditioning. When he was finished and the Browns began to scrimmage, all Richardson could do was watch.
And that's when the real pain kicked in.
"It's terrible, man" he said. "But I know in my mind that it's not going to be near like last year, being hurt and injured. It's hard to just watch. I do want to be out there. I tell coach every day that I can go. I put my helmet on or something, and we laugh. I know he means good about sitting me out for right now."
Injuries slowed Richardson during a productive rookie season when he showed flashes of one day becoming a major star — if he isn't one already. He missed the exhibition season recovering from an arthroscopic procedure on his knee, and then played the final 10 games with "two or three" broken ribs, an agonizing injury that would have sidelined most players.
Still, the muscular 5-foot-9, 230-pounder managed to rush for 950 yards with 11 touchdowns and added 367 receiving yards. Richardson only missed the season finale.
Chudzinski is confident Richardson can stay healthy and insists he isn't worried by his brief history of injuries.
"I'm not concerned," he said. "He's healthy from all the things from the past season and it's something we're working through. He'll be fine."
Chudzinski will hold off until next week before deciding whether Richardson will participate fully in the minicamp (June 4-6). As tempting as it might be to see what Richardson can do in Cleveland's new offensive system, Chudzinski won't take any chances.
The Browns' offense is designed to challenge teams vertically with a down-field passing attack, but quarterback Brandon Weeden knows that a sound running game will keep defenses honest.
And a back like Richardson — when healthy — makes a world of difference.
"It's huge," Weeden said. "We need Trent back and that's why him taking some time off now and getting 100 percent is a good idea. I told him, 'We need you in training camp and ready for Week 1.' He's going to make this offense better. Yeah, we talk about all the balls being thrown downfield, but you've got to hand it to 33."
Richardson averaged around 18 carries per game last season, but he's sure he will get the ball more in new coordinator Norv Turner's scheme. He has spoken to Emmitt Smith — they went to the same high school — and LaDainian Tomlinson, who both flourished with Turner calling the shots.
"Norv, he's talked to me about getting the ball a lot and making sure I'm the bell cow and working hard," Richardson said. "I tell him I'm going to be in the best shape I can be to make sure I can lead this team or put this team on my back every day."
Before training camp, Richardson intends to visit famed orthopedist Dr. James Andrews at his clinic in Pensacola, Florida Richardson typically sees Andrews for checkups on previous injuries.
"Other than that, I'm going to be working on the beach, running up sand dunes," he said.
Long before he was drafted, Richardson said his goal was to make the Hall of Fame and follow in Smith's footsteps. On Wednesday, legendary running back Jim Brown, who has returned to the Browns as a special adviser, said the only thing that can stop Richardson from reaching his goals are injuries.
"I say the only thing that can keep me from achieving my goals is me," he said. "That's keeping my head clear outside of football, on football, doing the right thing all the time. I don't think it's just the injuries, but that is something to think about in the long run and the short run. If Jim Brown says something, that's always something you have to put in your head.
"Hey, this man did it. He knows what he's talking about, so I might as well follow along and get on the right path and do what he tells me to do to make sure I stay injury free."
NOTES: Weeden spent last week in Moore, Oklahoma, recently devastated by a deadly tornado. Weeden said his brother-in-law's home there sustained heavy damage and the destruction was immense. "I watched all the coverage leading up to it and it was worse than I imagined," he said. "But there's a lot of people giving back, which is the right thing." ... LB Paul Kruger was not at practice because of a family obligation. ... Turner yelled loudly at Weeden and backup QB Jason Campbell following mistakes. The fiery Turner cuts loose on any player who blows an assignment. "They gave Norv that double shot of espresso this morning instead of the decaf with two sugars and two creams," cracked WR Greg Little. "He knows how to stay on top of you, but knows how to do it. He can be funny at times about it, but he's definitely a perfectionist."