BEREA - Most rookie running backs would gladly accept 575 yards of production and five touchdowns nine games into the season.
Trent Richardson isn't like most rookie running backs. He was the Browns' first draft this year selection and the third overall choice. In his final season at the University of Alabama he rushed for 1,679 yards and scored 21 touchdowns.
Richardson knows he can do better, even on a playing field has been made more difficult by the defensive talent in the NFL.
"For an individual goal that's disappointing to me as far as being the type of player I want to be," Richardson said. "I know I haven't been the worst player, but I know I haven't been the greatest.
"For me, I have to evaluate myself and be critical about the games that I have had, and so I have to do much better making people miss, running past people, breaking more tackles and getting into the end zone. I don't blame it on anyone else. I have to make sure I put the team in better positions to score."
Richardson could easily go the excuse route. He's had two arthroscopic knee surgeries this year - in early February and mid-August. In the second game of the season he suffered a rib injury. He hasn't missed much time, but he has had to deal with pain.
Coach Pat Shurmur was asked last Wednesday if the bye week helped Richardson get healthier. Shurmur joked that he didn't hit Richardson in the ribs to find out.
The fact is that Richardson is healthier than at any time since suffering the injury Sept. 16 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"I don't blame anything on injuries," Richardson said. "I'm a man. I have to face up to anything that's going wrong. I'm not going to say, 'I've been injured and this and that.' No, you were brought into the NFL for a reason. I've been brought here to play good ball."
The offense will need more production from a healthy Richardson to have a chance to defeat the Dallas Cowboys Sunday in Dallas. He thinks there's more to the overall equation than simply what quarterback Brandon Weeden and he do during the stretch drive of the season.
"It's not just going to be on us," Richardson said. "It's much bigger than me and Brandon. That's why it's called a team. We're part of trying to re-energize the offense. That's where everyone else on the team has to make sure we're doing our jobs and make sure we get the best openings for passing and run blocking to put us in position to put up points."
There would be no better place than Dallas for Richardson to add another 100-yard rushing day to his ledger. Richardson is from the Pensacola, Fla., the same home town of Hall of Fame Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith.
Not surprisingly, Richardson was a big fan of Smith's. The two now talk on occasion.
"He's one of those guys that's going to tell you the truth," Richardson said. "He liked how I stood up and spoke to the team and how I'm trying to be a leader and trying to lead by example. We are from the same town. He likes the way I represent Pensacola and my family."
Richardson had a Smith jersey growing up and envisioned one day becoming as talented as his idol.
"I'm trying to follow in his footsteps, if not do better than what he did," Richardson said. "Those are big footsteps to follow. That goes along with Jim Brown and Walter Payton the guys that I always looked up to and tried to base my game on."