Round 2 of preseason games is set to get underway Thursday, and it'll last through the weekend. Is it just me, or does it seem as if Week 1 of the preseason happened about nine months ago?
Richardson will play against Lions
You may remember my public Browns fandom confession from a few weeks ago, so you can rest assured I'm going to look at this completely objectively. The Browns are going to unveil Trent Richardson 2.0 to the world, as the team announced he'll see his first preseason action this Thursday against the Lions. Michael Fabiano is pretty high on Richardson this year, and quite frankly, part of the reason I took this job with NFL.com was so I could talk him out of it. Last year, I remember seeing Richardson get stuffed at the line of scrimmage on a high percentage of plays whenever he was in the game. Twelve carries for 27 yards in Week 3 last year against Buffalo. Fourteen carries for 47 yards against the Ravens in Week 4, and 14 carries for 37 yards in Week 6 against the Bengals were just some of the production lowlights. Curiously, substitute running backs like Montario Hardesty would come into the same game and rattle off five, six, seven-yard carries ... all behind the same offensive line as Richardson.
Something wasn't quite right with T-Rich in 2012. Yes, he struggled with multiple injuries, but we all saw him run wild over college defenses at Alabama, so I'm convinced the knocks he picked up were more serious than he was letting on. Well, that and the playcalling from one of the most inept coaching staffs this league has maybe ever seen didn't maximize his talent. The Browns won't use Richardson a great deal in preseason - nor should they - so we may not gain great insight into how much better or worse his form will be in his sophomore year. He does have the potential to become one of the elite running backs in the league, and he has the right coaching staff to do it. Now, if he can just help this franchise overcome its seemingly infinite curse ...
Oh, and speaking of Hardesty, check this out: he's scheduled to have a minor knee scope Thursday, which isn't related to his hamstring injury, which isn't related to the thumb injury he picked up on Monday, which presumably isn't related to just about every other injury he's had since entering the NFL in 2010. I really like the guy as a player and person, but I wouldn't trust him to order a pizza without hurting himself and missing a few games. At one point, he was an intriguing handcuff. Today, it's a tossup whether he makes the roster, and even if he does, it'll only be a matter of time before he gets dinged up again.
- Bring in a head coach who has an aggressive, pass-first playbook.
- Bring in a veteran QB who still has plenty left in the tank and can excel in the right situation.
- Improve your abysmal offensive line from a year ago.
- Repeatedly remind your star WR how terribly he performed in 2012 so he has plenty of motivation to tear it up this year.
» Geno Smithmay have lost the QB competition to Mark Sanchez, if only by default. Smith was an interception machine in practice on Wednesday, and Rex Ryan thinks it's because Smith is dealing with injuries. Now is not the time for a QB in a starter race to miss practice, which is especially so for a rookie. Nonetheless, I've said it before - both Smith and Sanchez will see playing time at some point this year, and neither will make you wish you had drafted them in your league. Just grab the popcorn and enjoy the impending horror show.
» Le'Veon Bell and Isaac Redman have been listed as co-starters by the Steelers. Bell will move into the starting role sooner or later this season, but the good news is some of your fantasy league mates may read that headline and immediately undervalue Bell by thinking to themselves "Split backfield!" which isn't necessarily the case. For the first few weeks, Bell looks like he could indeed share carries with Redman. But that won't be the case for long.
» Remember that A.J. Green knee injury that Marvin Lewis kind of blew off as being minor? Green finally returned to practice for the first time since that took place in late July. It seems kind of strange to hold someone out of practice for three weeks for something that is allegedly minor. Keep your eye on Green to see if this may turn into something that could linger.