The Cleveland Browns will apparently have their most promising player in the lineup on Sunday, as running back Trent Richardson is expected to play in the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft has been sidelined since Aug. 9 after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, but ESPN reported on Tuesday that Richardson will be starting.
Richardson practiced on Monday, and is wearing a protective rubber sleeve over his knee. He didn't play in any of the Browns' four preseason games. Brandon Jackson made inroads in Richardson's absence, and will likely split time with Montario Hardesty for the No. 2 running back.
The Browns appear to have a great deal of faith in their 2012 first-round draft picks. Brandon Weeden will be starting at quarterback over Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace, who was released this week.
In his first preseason game, Weeden completed just three-of-nine passes against the Detroit Lions, and also threw an interception. But the rookie managed to have two better outings against the Green Bay Packers and Eagles, and looked more comfortable in the offense.
"Really he's kind of improved every day," said Browns head coach Pat Shurmur about Weeden. "For a guy that's going through this for the first time as a pro, I think he's very ready."
Weeden and Richardson will have the home crowd on their side on Sunday, but face an Eagles' defense that bolstered an already strong line, and is expected to rebound from a rather disappointing 2011 season.
The Eagles used their first-round pick and two second-round picks on defensive players, and are eager to live up to lofty expectations.