BEREA - It's too soon to panic, but some healthy concern is in order for Browns' first-round draft choice Trent Richardson.
Instead of lining up with his teammates for Tuesday's practice, Richardson spent the early part of the session on a stationary bike. The running back from Alabama then stood on the sideline and watched the final stages of practice.
Richardson told a team public relations official that he didn't want to talk to reporters as he walked off the field. Coach Pat Shurmur said that Richardson had a sore left knee and that he might not play in the preseason opener Friday against the Detroit Lions.
Richardson had surgery on the left knee after the Crimson Tide's win over LSU in the national championship game last January. He wasn't able to participate in physical drills at the NFL combine in late February.
"I'm always concerned about injuries," Shurmur said. "I think at this point we'll find out what it is. He's been practicing well. He's just a little sore right now. We'll see where he is."
Richardson had a history of minor knee injuries in college. He missed two games and was limited to 112 carries in the 2010 season.
Richardson's injury past is enough to spark concern in the organization, which is still smarting from the injury woes that have struck 2010 second-round draft choice Montario Hardesty. Hardesty had a lengthy list of injuries while at the University of Tennessee. The Browns gambled that he would stay healthy, but he tore knee ligaments on the seventh carry of his first preseason action and missed the entire season.
Hardesty was limited to 10 games last season because of injuries. Healthy for the first time in his NFL career, he's anxious to prove that he can still be a productive contributor.
"I know I can play," Hardesty said. "I feel like I have a lot to prove."
Hardesty had 88 carries for 266 yards last season. He was frustrated because of his inability to stay healthy.
"That was one of my worst years playing football, mentally and physically," Hardesty said. "I wasn't healthy. I was down about that. Coming into camp still being hurt, I felt like I couldn't put it all together.
"I looked in the mirror this offseason and said, 'What are you going to do to make sure that doesn't happen again?' I've really worked hard this offseason. I've got myself back healthy. Now I'm just ready to play football."
Hardesty's injury problems were one of the reasons why the Browns used the third overall choice in the 2011 draft on Richardson. For Hardesty, Richardson's arrival didn't change the way he's approached the coming season.
"I didn't have a big thing about it," Hardesty said. "I was in the middle of training. I wanted to see what we were going to do to get our team better, but those things I can't control. Before and after the draft I just wanted to make sure that I come in and play hard and help our team win."
Hardesty brought a new image and a new number with him to camp this year. He changed from 31 to 20, which looks similar to the number 2 he wore in college.
"It's been good to me," he said. "Me and number 2 worked well together."