CLEVELAND - It was all touchy-touchy, feel-good, love-is-in-the-air comments this week out of the locker rooms of the Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
Ravens running back Ray Rice said he wants a Trent Richardson jersey. The Browns rookie running back said he'd be glad to send a jersey to a player he thinks will one day be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
All the praise will go out the window for about three hours today when the 4-3 Ravens and 2-6 Browns meet at 1 p.m. at Cleveland Browns Stadium. It seems clear that the running back that has the better day will likely lead his team to a win.
Richardson is coming off a 122-yard effort last Sunday in a 7-6 win over the San Diego Chargers. He's close to being 100 percent healthy after suffering an injury in the rib-cage area Oct. 14 against the Bengals.
"I know one thing he's surely running hard," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Richardson. "He's breaking tackles and making people miss. The run for the touchdown (against the Chargers) was one of the better runs you're to see. He looks like he's full speed ahead to us."
Richardson has exceeded the 100-yard mark twice this season he had 109 against the Bengals in week two. There's no question that quarterback Brandon Weeden's job becomes a little easier when Richardson is running well.
"I think you would always like to be able to run the football," Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. "Whether it's that number (122) or not it could be higher or it could be lower it just kind of depends on how you're moving it that day. It was good to see. I don't think there's any downside to that, for him to be able to carry the ball for 100-plus yards."
Injuries have hit the Ravens' defense hard. Linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Ladarius Webb are out with serious injuries, and it showed in a 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans two week ago. Surprisingly, the Ravens are allowing 400 yards of offense per game and 142.9 on the ground.
"Teams have been running a little more on the Ravens," Richardson said. "You can't judge a team until you're out there with them. Baltimore has always had a real good defense. I'm sure Ray Lewis is coaching them up. He's going to have them prepared for us."
The Browns' offense has continued to evolve since a 23-16 loss to the Ravens Sept. 27. At that time rookie receiver Josh Gordon hadn't begun to make an impact. He now has 17 receptions for an average of 22.3 yards per catch and four touchdowns.
"We've come a long ways," Weeden said. "I watched the game last night on my iPad at home. Josh Gordon hadn't really come into his own. I was doing some uncharacteristic things. We had some drops. We're not making the same mistakes we were back then, which is good."
Harbaugh was also effusive in his praise of Weeden, saying he is on the same level as other quarterbacks in the AFC North Division.
"You look at the guys across the league," Weeden said. "(Cincinnati's) Andy (Dalton) had a great year last year. (Baltimore's) Joe (Flacco) is playing at an extremely high level. (Pittsburgh's) Ben (Roethlisberger) won a Super Bowl. I don't know if I'm there yet.
"I think he's giving me a little too much (credit). We need to win some more games. I need to do some better things to help this team out. I think from a confidence standpoint, I feel like I'm making strides in the right direction. For him to say that, I do really appreciate it. That's saying a lot considering how good these other three quarterbacks are."
It will be another learning experience today for the young Browns.