Cleveland Browns' Trent Richardson slowed by broken ribs

BEREA, Ohio -- Trent Richardson's rookie season was productive - and painful.

The Cleveland Browns running back revealed Monday that he played most of his first season in the NFL with two broken ribs, an injury that not only made it tough to play but even sleep.

"I still can't lay flat on my back or on my side," Richardson said, "but it's going to come around, and I know I'll be healthy before next season."

Richardson, who sat out Sunday's season finale in Pittsburgh with a sprained left ankle, hurt his ribs on Oct. 14 against the Cincinnati Bengals. For the next three or four weeks he said he needed help getting into a shower and dressing. He slept propped up.

But he never missed a game and endured pain that would have sidelined most players.

The Browns listed Richardson as having a rib cartilage injury throughout the season on their injury report. The first-round draft pick wore a protective jacket over his ribs and finished with 950 yards, breaking many of Hall of Famer Jim Brown's team rookie rushing records - despite missing the entire exhibition season following arthroscopic knee surgery.

Richardson was mostly disappointed with his season. The injuries never allowed him to recover or get close to being 100 percent healthy. He didn't have the same explosiveness or quickness as he did in college as an All-American at Alabama.

He vowed to come back stronger next season.

"It's going to be a big year," he said. "It's going to be one of the biggest years for a running back that you've seen around here. And I know I'm talking big but that's just my goals and that's my expectations."

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press