Originally posted on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 9/5/12

I’ve said before that I think Browns fans have already taken Trent Richardson for granted. In a lot of ways, even without seeing anything from him other than some training camp time, Browns fans have just plugged him in for somewhere around Peyton Hillis numbers pre-Madden. Really, what else should fans do with a guy drafted number three overall? Even with all that Browns fans are counting on, it is a mistake to underestimate the importance of Richardson to the Browns franchise overall.

It’s possible that the Browns could end up O.K. even if Trent Richardson was a total bust, I guess. Maybe Brandon Weeden and the young receivers along with Jordan Cameron become an efficient touchdown-scoring unit along with an offensive line that learns to play together like blood brothers. Anything’s possible. Just ask Brandon Jackson who helped the 10-6 Packers get to a Super Bowl and beat the Steelers after Ryan Grant went down injured in the first game of the year. Of course if he was being honest Jackson might also point to Aaron Rodgers and his counterparts on that Green Pay Packers defense. The point in all this silliness, of course, is that it is much easier to see the Browns becoming a good team with Trent Richardson being the key piece on offense.

As an aside, this is why I really don’t care if Richardson plays this weekend. The Eagles game is just one of (hopefully) many, and the Browns are wild underdogs in it anyway. If there’s any doubt about Richardson being ready to go, it makes all the sense in the world to just wait.

It would stink to wait because of how much the Browns are counting on Richardson to be the glue for this offense. You know how you crush a pass rush? Run straight through it so the pass rushers can’t pin their ears back. You know how you protect a rookie QB from getting on a bad streak of passes and interceptions? Run the ball successfully to get that in a linebacker’s head and open up the field for the young receivers. Point being that you put all these pieces in place on offense and then hope your best player can help make them all work together better. Trent Richardson was drafted to be that guy. For so many people in the Browns organization and on the Browns roster, he needs to be that guy.

Whenever the Browns do get a healthy Richardson on the field, he should be by far the biggest year-over-year position player addition in the entire AFC North division. The Bengals have A.J. Green, the Ravens have Ray Rice and the Steelers have Mike Wallace and Browns fans thought they would be able to tout Peyton Hillis, once upon a time. That didn’t work out, but in an ideal world, by the end of this season, fans will be able to say the Browns have Trent Richardson.

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