BEREA -- Running back Trent Richardson heard a familiar name when he first sat down with new offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
“The first thing he said to me was, ‘I had Emmitt Smith,’” Richardson said Tuesday on the first day of a three-day minicamp. “For me and Emmitt Smith being from the same hometown, going to the same school, there’s a lot of big work and a lot of big shoes I’ve got to fill.
“For Emmitt to be up under him and to learn from him, that’s big for me just to have him around.”
Richardson and Smith attended Escambia High School in Pensacola, Fla. Smith is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and a mentor to Richardson. Turner coached Smith with the Dallas Cowboys.
“I’m always going to have some connection with him no matter what,” Richardson said. “Until I get to where he’s at now it’s going to be like that.”
Richardson finished his rookie season in 2012 with 950 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns and a 3.6 average. He missed the finale with an ankle injury and played his final 10 games with broken ribs. He said he returned to 100 percent about six weeks ago and is excited to be in Turner's system that features a power-running attack.
“I feel great,” he said. “I wish y’all could be out there to watch the whole practice, I’m out there flying around. I finally feel skinny, I don’t have all that big padding on me right now.
“It’s way easier to breathe. I can sleep at night. I don’t feel nothin’ is wrong with me at all. I feel better than ever right now.”
Richardson was in the news when the NFL outlawed the use of the crown of the helmet for running backs. His annihilation of Eagles safety Kurt Coleman was the first highlight shown by the NFL as an example of what not to do, and what is now illegal.
“I just don’t think about it ’cause if I think about it, I think it may just slow me down,” Richardson said. “I understand that they’re trying to make the NFL as safe as they can for the players in the long run and for the present.”
The rule, which carries a 15-yard penalty, was referred to as the “T-Rich Rule” by some.
“I just laughed about it at first, then I started to feel kind of bad for the backs ’cause I feel like it was kind of my fault,” he said. “But I’ve got to make sure I’m careful and make sure I don’t put the team in a bad situation so we get flagged.”
A civil lawsuit was filed against Richardson last month by two women who claim they were assaulted outside his Columbia Station home.
“I wish I could say stuff about that, but as far as legal rights, I really can’t say nothing about it,” he said.
Left guard Jason Pinkston has been cleared by the Browns’ doctors to return after missing the final 10 games of 2012 after developing a blood clot. Pinkston tweeted the news Monday and coach Rob Chudzinski confirmed it. He didn’t practice Tuesday.
“Good news for Jason,” Chudzinski said. “We’ll incrementally get him going back where he can get on the field and start practicing again. It will take a little time to do that.”
** Receiver David Nelson, who was signed April 8, was the only other player who didn’t practice. He tore an anterior cruciate ligament in the 2012 opener.
“David is rehabbing his knee right now,” Chudzinski said. “We expect him to be ready for training camp.”
The Browns had 65 players at practice, which made the fieldhouse look crowded. There were a lot of new faces, including 17 players and 18 coaches that weren’t here last season.
“It’s great to be out there, finally get a chance to get out with these guys and get them on the field,” Chudzinski said. “I was impressed with the team. I thought the energy, I thought the effort, I thought the focus were all outstanding. This is a hungry group, and that’s something to work with, for sure.”
Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net reported that sources told him Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner is the No. 1 target of the Browns with the No. 6 pick in the draft. If Milliner isn’t there, the Browns would look to trade down with the hope of getting LSU outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo.
Richardson played with Milliner for two years with the Crimson Tide and endorsed the pick.
“Man, I’d love Dee to be here, especially on the other side of Joe (Haden),” Richardson said. “Those two on opposite sides … that’s a powerful thing. Both of them guys are top-notch guys and just comparing him with Joe is an honor for him.
“That dude there works hard and he’s fast. He’s got a lot of good ball skills. I’ve seen this dude do a 360 dunk in the gym off hops, off just vertical. This dude, he’s athletic and he’s ready to play.”
Receivers Seyi Ajirotutu and Legedu Naanee and defensive back Chris Rucker are practicing in the minicamp on a tryout basis. All have NFL experience.
** The NFL regular-season schedule will be released Thursday night at 8. The opponents are known, just not the dates and times. The Browns will play Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Jacksonville, Miami and Pittsburgh at home, and travel to Baltimore, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Kansas City, Minnesota, New England, New York Jets and Pittsburgh.
** Defensive back Troy Nolan had a workout with the Browns, SiriusXM Radio’s Adam Caplan reported. Nolan’s a five-year veteran.
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