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Late For Work 9/19: Richardson Trade Mean Browns Give Up This Season?

Posted Sep 19, 2013

The real issue in the run game. Could Jensen take over for Gino? WR Thompson’s role upon return.

Richardson Trade Mean Browns Give Up This Season?

The blockbuster trade of Browns second-year running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first-round draft pick is … well … unbelievable.

After ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news on Twitter, receiver Torrey Smith replied, “Is this a real tweet?”

Yes, Torrey, this is real. The Ravens’ AFC North rival just shipped their best offensive weapon out of the division.

And if you think Smith was shocked, imagine how former Raven Paul Kruger must feel. He said just last week that he was excited about what the Browns have going on this year and wanted to help prove things are changing in Cleveland.

He can still do that, but it may have to wait a year.

Reports indicate that Richardson didn’t fit new Head Coach Rob Chudzinski and Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner’s offensive schemes, which they reportedly want tilted toward an aerial assault.

“That’s not who Richardson is. He’s a running back who needs to be fed the ball 20-30 times a game to reap his true value,” wrote FoxSports’com’s Ross Jones. “The Browns realized it and made the move.”

Neither coach was around when the Browns drafted Richardson with the third-overall pick of last year’s draft. Neither were Owner Jimmy Haslam, President Joe Banner or General Manager Michael Lombardi. Now Richardson’s 510 days as a Cleveland Brown are up.

The Browns have set themselves up for a scary amount of ammunition to rebuild their offense next year. It will likely start with trying to find a franchise quarterback and then even more. Cleveland now has two first-round picks, a second, two third-rounders and two fourth-rounders. Wow.

There’s no question the trade makes sense for the Browns in the long term, but what about the players who are currently on the roster and have 14 more games to play this season?

“Understand the deal from Cleve's long-term perspective. But pretty tough to walk into locker room Sept. 19 knowing brass is playing for '14,” tweeted Sports Illustrated’s Peter King.

“For #Browns, Brian Hoyer is the QB and Bobby Rainey is the RB. #Browns have given up on the season after two weeks to build for the future,” added ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

But Browns brass insists that it hasn’t given up on the 2013 season.

The team will bring in former Ravens running back Willis McGahee for a physical and reports indicate they will sign him to help as a short-term solution. If they do sign McGahee, they will use two former Ravens running backs (Rainey) as their one-two punch this season. They also have Chris Ogbonnaya in the backfield.

When asked about the perception among Browns fans that the team is giving up on the season, Browns CEO Joe Banner said, “That’s not the case. We’re going to continue to play hard and do everything we can to win every week.”

Added Chudzinski: “We’ll have the same expectations, we’ll have the same goals, and we’re going to do everything we can to win every week. Nothing has changed from that standpoint."

The Real Issue In The Run Game

While running back Ray Rice’s injury doesn’t appear to be too serious, Hensley predicts the sixth-year veteran will not suit up against the Texans.

History under Head Coach John Harbaugh says players that don’t practice during the week don’t play in the game. Rice didn’t practice yesterday, and Harbaugh indicated he won’t practice at all this week.

While everyone will mostly be focused on whether backup Bernard Pierce can shoulder the load, Hensley says there is a bigger concern.

“The bigger issue for the Ravens, may not be who is the running back, but whether the Ravens can turnaround their running game,” Hensley said. “Both Rice and Bernard Pierce are averaging under three yards per carry, and that’s uncharacteristic for the Ravens.

“I think the bigger issue is whether the Ravens’ offensive line can create holes for either one of them.”

Could Jensen Take Over For Gino?

Speaking of the offensive line, Hensley indicated that one weak spot is at center with second-year player Gino Gradkowski taking over the starting spot after Matt Birk retired.

Hensley gives Gradkowski a C grade for his play through two weeks, and indicated that an injured rookie may have a chance to take over later this year.

“The Ravens aren't happy about his play but he isn't making the mistakes that get you pulled,” Hensley wrote in a fan chat. “You hear rumblings that Ryan Jensen, who has been inactive because of foot surgery, could get a look at center when he returns this season.”

When the sixth-round pick went down with a broken foot early in training camp, many outsiders thought he was destined for injured reserve as an easy way to clear a coveted roster spot for somebody else while Jensen develops.

But the Ravens have given that valuable spot to Jensen with the belief that he will contribute this season.

“We feel like he’s going to be a player for us sooner rather than later, and that’s why we held on to him on the 53-[man roster],” Harbaugh said last week. “We’ve got high hopes for him for this year, and he’s not too far out.”

This The Week Thompson Returns? What’s His Role?

Ravens wide receiver Deonte Thompson returned to practice yesterday for the first time since he injured his foot in the preseason opener nearly six weeks ago.

It’s a positive sign for the second-year receiver, who the Ravens were very high on prior to his injury.

Could this be the week Deonte Thompson returns?” asked Jason Butt of Baltimore Beatdown. “Now might be his chance to step back into the Ravens' lineup. With the struggles the receiving corps has endured thus far, it could definitely use another body to work in the rotation.”

Hensley still thinks it will be another week or two before Thompson is activated for game action, and doesn’t see a big role for him.

“I don't see him cracking the top three of Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Brandon Stokley,” the ESPN blogger wrote. “He could see time as a returner, although Tandon Doss looked pretty good in that role Sunday.”

Quick Hits

  • Texans Head coach Gary Kubiak said receiver Andre Johnson “should be ready to go.” Things are less clear for tackle Duane Brown (toe) and Ed Reed (hip). [ProFootballTalk.com]
  • @richeisen: Ed Reed did not sound to me like a man who is suiting up this weekend when I chatted with him on my podcast: RichEisen.NFL.com [Twitter]
  • MRIs revealed that there was no structural damage for Arthur Brown (pectoral), Chykie Brown (knee), or Chris Canty (groin). "It can be a lot worse," Brown told Aaron Wilson. "I didn't know exactly what happened, but it felt like I like overstretched it. I'm just glad it wasn't serious." [The Baltimore Sun]
  • @baltimoreluke: Suggs on defense rebounding last week: "The only person hitting the panic button was you guys (media). We told you all we got it." #Ravens [Twitter]
  • @rapsheet: How did Trent Richardson react? I'm told he was shocked, upset. He loved Cleveland. But slowly, he's understanding the benefits in Indy. [Twitter]
  • @gerrysandusky: Every front office person on every NFL team has to be pouring over Cleveland's roster right now to see if they can get in on the yard sale. [Twitter]
  • @albertbreer: No offense to any other fan base -- Pound for pound, I think Cleveland has the best football fans in the NFL. Lots of lost years for them. [Twitter]
  • Quarterback Joe Flacco had his worst game of last season against the Houston Texans with a 48.8 completion percentage. He threw for just 147 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, one pick-six, and was sacked four times. That said, Henlsey sees a solid day for him Sunday. “Prediction: The Ravens could be without running back Ray Rice, who is dealing with a hip injury. And, with the struggles of the Ravens' ground game, Baltimore will rely on Flacco to carry the offense again. His effectiveness at home is also a factor. Since the start of the 2012 season, Flacco has averaged 286 yards passing in nine home games with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. Expect him to put up quality numbers.” [ESPN]

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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