Norv Turner has coached Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson, two of the best running backs in NFL history.
As offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns, Turner now gets to work with Trent Richardson, the third pick of last year's draft who is coming off an injury-filled and disappointing rookie season.
And after getting to study Richardson, Turner told the Cleveland Plain Dealer he thinks he can be in the same category as the other two all-time greats he coached.
"Just watching him and seeing him against us when I came here in October and then watching the tape, yeah, he’s that type of runner,'' said Turner. "Obviously he’s the third pick in the draft. I think he has a lot of great days ahead of him. I always have a problem comparing players because each guy has his own unique style, but I think he’s capable of doing great things.”
That's a great compliment and a lot of pressure all rolled into one statement.
Turner wasn't saying Richardson would rush for more than 18,000 yards like Smith or score 145 touchdowns like Tomlinson, but he obviously likes his upside. And (fantasy alert!) Turner isn't going to let the next Emmitt/L.T. rest on the bench – he predicted 300 carries for his star back.
"If that player is your best player, then I think it’s probably a good thing to have him in the game and give him the ball," Turner told the Plain Dealer. "So I would hope Trent would have that many carries."
Richardson has to stay healthy first to have this breakout season, and his 3.6-yard average as a rookie is a little troubling, injuries or not. But his offensive coordinator obviously respects and appreciates Richardson's talent.
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