I just don’t know anymore, Trent Richardson. I just don’t know.
I’m torn, man, and I’m trying not to overreact here, which is often a lost art. So before we go about the business of doing that, here’s the latest on his injury which seemed minor yesterday, and although it’s certainly not major now, it’s a little more than minor. Follow?
After the Browns running back said that he doesn’t want to be considered injury prone, he’s since done his best to be considered injury prone. He’s missed nearly all of the team’s offseason training activities so far with a strained muscle in his right shin. He said the training staff is just being cautious, and not subjecting him to important yet ultimately meaningless pounding on a practice field in June.
And I suppose that’s true, but there’s a deeper and more troubling reason behind the many miles Richardson has logged on a stationary sideline bike this offseason. Mostly, this…
Breaking #Browns: Sources -Trent Richardson out til August. Team worried leg injury could develop into stress fracture. Story coming soon
— Will Burge (@WillBurge) June 4, 2013
So to review, this is a running back who already missed most of training camp last year after knee surgery, who played through broken ribs, and who missed a game with a high ankle sprain, and all of that happened in his rookie season. And now after he hasn’t played a snap of competitive football in five months, there’s still lingering concern about a seemingly minor strain turning into a stress fracture. Neat.
Again, while the instinct here is to let the darkness sink in and to think awful thoughts (as I kind of, sort of am), I want to stress how important it is to find a happy place. While this strain which could morph into a fracture is indeed concerning, we need to ease our mental pain by remembering that the injuries which either limited Richardson or kept him out in 2012 were mostly breaks. Bones do that sometimes in a physical game, one in which bones collide violently. They break.
In that sense, injuries are always a jarring yet random event, which is why I always struggle to toss around the injury prone label too liberally as a reason to downgrade a player in fantasy rankings. Sure, there are true injury risks out there (here’s lookin’ at you, Darren McFadden). But for every McFadden that we spend an offseason worrying about and seeking to avoid in drafts, there’s a Matthew Stafford. Remember two years ago when Stafford had missed 19 games over his first two seasons, and he was avoided like the smelly kid at the back of the class? Yeah, the next season he passed for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns.
Now, Richardson comes with risk, but only moderately more than the next guy. This past season was a prime example of how much offseason injury concerns can be drastically overplayed, resulting in nonsensical fantasy draft tumbles. Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles shredded their knees, and they finished first and fourth in rushing respectively, while logging a combined 3,606 yards on the ground. They did alright.
If you’re the timid and cautious type and you’d like to drop Richardson in your rankings now, do it only slightly. Really, really slightly. It’s likely that this amounts to little more than offseason rest, and caution. I don’t need to say this, but I’ll do it anyway: monitor Richardson closely at the beginning of training camp, and see how much he can absorb contact. If he gets through any preseason action with all his limbs in their proper position, then draft him highly as planned.
This injury could actually lead to marginal value, with potential Richardson owners now scared by his seemingly brittle skeleton. If you mantain a more stable approach he could take a tumble and fall to late in the second round where he’ll provide great value, especially since he’s now the primary running back in a vertical offense which will force defenses to respect the Browns’ passing game and keep eight men out of the box.
UPDATE (1:04 p.m. ET): Oh look, good news. This is good news, right?
#browns HC Chud on espncleveland report that Trent Richardson will miss start of t. Camp: “it’s my expectation” he’ll be ready for camp
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) June 4, 2013