AFCN UPDATES: Trent Richardson improving

Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE

Always keeping our eye focused on the AFC North, we take a look at a couple of Cleveland Browns updates.

Always keeping our eye focused on the AFC North, we take a look at a couple of Cleveland Browns updates.

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Trent Richardson improving

Browns running back Trent Richardson has spent the offseason rehabilitating a strained muscle and shin injury. The injuries have sidelined Richardson during the team's offseason training program and speculative reports suggested that he could miss the start of training camp, despite Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski calling his absence "precautionary".

Recently Jason La Canfora with CBSSports.com reported that "there is every expectation" that Richardson will be ready for camp.

Mary Kay Cabot with the Cleveland Plain Dealer recently wrote that Richardson is improving and that's "he's still on track for camp."

Richardson has begun his running program, as scheduled, at home in Pensacola, Fla., so he’s still on track for camp. But the Browns will err on the side of caution and do whatever it takes to get him to the season healthy. If he’s somewhat limited early on in camp, it wouldn’t be the worst decision.

Montario Hardesty will help give Richardson time off, if needed. Dawgs by Nature writes:

Hardesty's saving grace is that after being completely ignored by Pat Shurmur early last year, when he was given a couple of carries late in the year, he showed a very good burst and ended up finishing the season with a 4.2 yards per carry average. He had some issues catching the ball again, but if he can bring that same intensity to his running style in 2013 (he had a solid camp in 2012), they I think he will begin the year as Richardson's backup.

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Defensive updates.

It's the dead calm of the offseason just before the arrival of the explosive updates from training camp. Beat writers and NFL columnists are taking their respective breaks. And when they're not on vacation, they're summarizing thoughts heading into training camp.

Terry Pluto with the Cleveland Plain Dealer is thinking defense.

There are four new outside LBs: Jabaal Sheard, Quenton Groves, Mingo and Kruger. All have above-average speed. The Browns have been extremely pleased with Sheard’s adjustment from a 4-3 end to outside linebacker. If the season opened tomorrow, Sheard and Kruger would start on the outside, with Mingo and Groves coming off the bench.

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Travis Benjamin to start over Josh Gordon.

Second-year wide receiver Josh Gordon, who generated 805 yards receiving and five touchdowns last season, will open this season serving a two-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Multiple reports indicated that he was suspended after a drug test discovered codeine, which Gordon claimed was found after he used cough medicine.

Greg Little and Davone Bess will start at "Z" and slot respectively. Pluto with the Cleveland Plain Dealer that "Travis Benjamin will probably start in (Gordon's) place."

The Browns are hoping David Nelson -- another veteran -- can come back strong from his knee surgery. He caught 61 passes for Buffalo in 2011, mostly as a slot receiver. They believe he can play some wide receiver and would love to have him in the mix.

As previously reported, the former 2012 Supplement Draft pick will also lose four game checks this year.

Benjamin, drafted by the Browns during the fourth round (No. 100 overall) of the 2012 NFL draft, generated 298 yards receiving on 18 receptions and two touchdowns. SB Nation's Dawgs by Nature writes on Benjamin.

First off, I think there is little-to-no-chance that Benjamin gets cut loose. The team needs a punt returner after the departure of veteran Joshua Cribbs, and Benjamin is going to be that guy. In limited action as a punt returner last year, Benjamin set the world on fire, including a touchdown return. It helps that special teams coordinator Chris Taboris coming back so that Benjamin can retain that role without really having to battle for it.

Chris Pokorny adds:

Benjamin is going to have to prove to the new coaching staff that he warrants playing time on game day. So far, it sounds like he is showcasing his skills in the right way.

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