Cleveland rookie running back Trent Richardson returned to practice on Monday for the first time since undergoing surgery to remove torn cartilage in his left knee on Aug. 9. The No. 3 overall pick out of Alabama may be available to the Browns for Sunday's opener against the Eagles.
With his dreadlocks flowing out of his orange helmet and a black rubber sleeve on his knee - which has been operated on twice since he helped the Crimson Tide win a national championship in January - Richardson took some snaps with Cleveland's first-team offense during the portion of practice open to the media, then had a short quiz on his assignments with running backs coach Gary Brown (he passed).
After the workout, Browns coach Pat Shurmur sounded optimistic about the rookie. "If he's ready to go, he will be our starter," Shurmur said.
The Browns will have their only practice in full pads this week on Thursday, which will be Richardson's only chance to take some hits before Sunday's game. The 22-year-old missed all four Browns exhibition games.
No start for you. Looks like the Jaguars were serious when they said they didn't need holdout running back Maurice Jones-Drew - who only led the league in rushing last season with 1,606 yards. He's back to being a backup. (That sound you just heard? The screams of thousands of fantasy coaches.)
Jacksonville honcho Mike Mularkey says Jones-Drew looks to be in playing shape, but the coach expects him to mostly rotate in on third downs Sunday at Minnesota. The coach did allow as to how the pocket powerhouse might "get a series" in place of starter Rashad Jennings (2011 rushing yards: 0).
Odds are, one series is all it will take. We're penciling him in for the Cover-2 Kookaburras.
Political football. With the Democratic Convention starting Tuesday night in Charlotte, N.C., there's one question all Americans want answered.
No, it's not "Will Clint Eastwood show up and yell at a coatrack?"
It's "Where will the Carolina Panthers practice?"
President Obama will give his speech accepting his party's nomination at the Panthers' stadium on Thursday night and he's known for bringing the kind of security that could make practicing at the place a little tricky. When the Secret Service makes a tackle, they bring real heat.
Fear not for Cam Newton and company. The Panthers decided to practice in Florida to prepare for their regular-season opener at Tampa Bay on Sunday. The team plans to depart for the IMG Football Academy in Bradenton, Fla., on Tuesday.
Wide receiver Steve Smith said the convention prep has been a little bit of a distraction.
Party planners began setting up at the stadium about two weeks ago, installing generators, wiring and decorations. Hundreds of workers are in the stadium every day. The entryway to the stadium is now heavily guarded. Players have had to change parking spaces and check in with security.
Even as Smith spoke, police helicopters hovered over the practice fields.
Smith said he's looking forward to the six-day camp-out. "We're staying out there, so they have the marshmallows and the graham crackers ready and the bonfire going. Someone has the karaoke machine . . . and we're just going to sleep in sleeping bags."
Moving the chains. The Indianapolis Colts brought back former Eagles defensive back D.J. Johnson and running back Alvester Alexander to their practice squad. . . . The San Francisco 49ers placed linebacker Parys Haralson on injured reserve.