BEREA, Ohio - One of Trent Richardson's goals is to be one of the best running backs in NFL history, a Hall of Famer like Marshall Faulk.
And Faulk believes Richardson is on a path to greatness.
"He has it in him," Faulk said about Cleveland's second-year star. "It's in him to be great. He wants it."
Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson works out Wednesday at training camp.
Richardson and Faulk had a chance to catch up and talk some football Wednesday after practice. Faulk, who currently works as an analyst for the NFL Network, was at Cleveland's training camp to report on the Browns, who are counting on Richardson to build off his solid rookie season, when he rushed for nearly 1,000 yards despite playing most of the year with two broken ribs.
The two backs have known each other for a few years and Richardson has long admired Faulk, one of the most versatile backs in league history. During a 12-year career with Indianapolis and St. Louis, Faulk rushed for 12,279 yards and had 767 receptions for 6,875 yards to goal along with 136 combined touchdowns.
Faulk was elusive, durable and versatile and Richardson would love to follow in his footsteps.
"I'm trying to get to where he is today," Richardson said.
Richardson has another Hall of Fame mentor in Jim Brown, who is back working as an adviser with his former team.
"It's big having him out here at practice," Richardson said. "Him, me and Jim Brown on the same field, that's a powerful field. That's a strong moment to have both of them on the field at the same time."
It's interesting that Faulk and Brown (12,321) are only separated by 33 yards on the career rushing chart. Richardson wears No. 33.
Richardson first met Faulk at the NFL Combine a few years ago and the two have stayed in touch since. But even before he got to know Faulk, Richardson studied the former star, hoping to pick up something he could use to make his game better.
"I learned a lot from Marshall as far as watching film on him," said Richardson, who arrived at camp about 10 pounds lighter than he was last season. "When we were at Alabama, we used to watch a lot of film on Marshall. I still study a lot of his game, go back and watch a lot of his film on certain stuff that he do. And I give him phone calls every now and again and ask him what I need to do better, what I need to work hard on."
Faulk believes Richardson has everything he needs to succeed.
"Yeah, it's there," he said. "You saw it in college. It's the reason that in a league that they're starting to kind of devalue the position, he gets drafted so early. He's never shied away from asking questions or letting you know what he don't know because he understands that the things that you don't know when you find them out, it makes it easier to become great."
Following practice, Richardson and Faulk filmed a segment together on the field. Richardson, who had 51 catches last season, got some tips on running pass routes from Faulk, who was a nightmare for any linebacker or defensive back to cover when he came out of the backfield.
Faulk showed Richardson than finer points on a quick route he mastered.
"He calls it the "Faulk" route but a lot of people call in the 'angle' route," Richardson said. "He was like the king of it, he's still the king of it. I haven't seen nobody run it like him."
Faulk knows the key for Richardson to attain his goals is to stay on the field. No back has ever broken records or transformed a franchise while standing on the sideline.
Richardson showed remarkable toughness last year while playing with his ribs cracked, and there will be moments ahead when he'll have to fight through pain to gain yards.
"The position is one that's it's not about how healthy you are," Faulk said. "It's how unhealthy you can play at times, and that's what being reliable at the position is. He's thirsty to not just get yards and be a good player, but he wants to be great and he wants to win. He's a breath of fresh air with the mindset that he has and not just after having a good rookie season, being happy with it that he did his job.
"He understands what needs to happen in order for him to be great."
Richardson has all the physical tools, and there's one characteristic Faulk that he wants.
"Marshall wasn't that big, but he was that guy on the field that everybody feared," he said. "When I get on that field I want everybody to fear me."