BEREA - The cloak and dagger surrounding running back Trent Richardson's rib injury carried into the start of another week.
Mixed messages were sent from Richardson and coach Pat Shurmur after the Browns lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 17-13, last Sunday. Shurmur said that Richardson didn't suffer more damage to the ribs, which indicated that he benched the ineffective Richardson in the second half. Richardson contradicted Shurmur by saying no one knows how badly he was hurt nine days ago against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Richardson did wear a flak jacket to protect his rib and chest areas. He took a couple of hard hits in the first half. He didn't play in the second half, finishing with 8 yards on eight carries and two receptions for 11 yards.
"Trent is a warrior, and Trent wanted to play that whole game," Shurmur said at his Monday press conference. "He was constantly trying to convince me to keep him in there. I've got to evaluate it the way I see it.
"There were some things happening out there where we weren't having efficiency running the football that were no fault of Trent's. I'm watching the player, and we try to make decisions on what's best. He's going to be a great player around here for a long time, and he wanted to be in the game. I want to make sure we consider him, his health and everything as we move forward."
The ground game has been a problem area in every game except in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in week two. Richardson rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown and caught a pass for another score.
It's been a struggle to get Richardson untracked since then. The fact he missed all of training camp because of minor knee surgery in August could have been an issue early in the season. Now he's also dealing with the rib injury.
Shurmur plans to re-evaluate Richardson as the week progresses before making a decision on his playing status for Sunday's home game against the San Diego Chargers. The Browns have another home game, against the Baltimore Ravens, next week before taking their bye.
"You just watch him practice and see where he's at physically," Shurmur said. "If he's ready to play, he'll play. If we see that this is bothering him to the point where he can't perform, then we'll make those decisions as we go."
Through seven games Richardson has rushed for 348 yards and four touchdowns on 103 carries. His average per carry of 3.4 yards is slightly less than the team average of 3.8 yards.
There's no question that the offensive line hasn't done a great job of run blocking. The line is built for pass protection, which it has done superbly in allowing just 11 sacks (none in the last two games).
Shurmur virtually abandoned the ground attack in the third quarter against the Colts. Eleven of the 12 offensive plays were passes. The lone run was a 1-yard loss by Montario Hardesty on the first play of the second half.
All Shurmur can do is continue to try to establish the running game. The line took a hit Monday when left guard Jason Pinkston was placed on injured-reserve to continue dealing with a health issue involving a blood clot.
"I think we can be an effective team running the football," Shurmur said. "We need to do a better job of doing it. Call better plays, block better and run better. We just need to do it. I'm confident we'll get it done this week."
ROSTER MOVE: Offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw was signed to the active roster to fill Pinkston's spot. Also, offensive lineman Bryant Browning was signed to the practice squad.
Shaw was on the Browns' practice squad the first seven weeks of the season.
INJURY REPORT: Defensive tackle Phil Taylor (torn pectoral) is expected to practice for the first time since having surgery last May. Taylor is on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Once he begins practicing the Browns will have three weeks to either activate him of place him on injured-reserve.