NAPA -– Raiders running back Trent Richardson developed a cough two weeks ago that wouldn’t go away. Then the headaches came, prompting the 25-year old to seek medical attention.
Doctors found pneumonia in the back of his lungs.
Richardson was training hard getting ready for his first training camp in silver and black, but the diagnosis gave him pause.
Team trainers told him to halt his training and focus on recovery. Head coach Jack Del Rio echoed that sentiment. It turned out to be the right call.
Richardson didn’t need a setback, especially while trying to prove worthy of a regular-season role. After analyzing his family history, he chose to play it safe.
“I came to find out that a few of my close relatives have died from pneumonia and I didn’t even know,” Richardson said. “I talked to people and realized that I needed to take it easy even though I wanted to work through it. The whole thing was kind of crazy.”
It slowed the start of his camp, but it didn’t put him out of shape. He easily passed the team conditioning test and was cleared for practice on Thursday morning.
He fared well in an intense, padded practice. Afterward he cleared up some unsubstantiated rumors about reporting to camp heavier than expected.
“This was as eager as I’ve been going to practice in a long, long time,” Richardson said. “It’s been a long time coming for me after getting sick. A lot people said something about me being overweight. I was nowhere near overweight. I came back in at 222, below what (head coach Jack Del Rio) wanted me to come in at. I had pneumonia in the back of my lungs, and that’s nothing to play with. Coach made that suggestion, and said I shouldn’t go out there until it was all the way gone. It’s about gone, and this is as close to healthy as I’ve been. I feel really good.”
Richardson worked primarily with the third unit, but never seemed fatigued or mentally behind.
“It was good for Trent to get back on the field,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. “And he looked good. He really did. He had a couple of holes with good timing. So, we’re happy to have him back.”
While Richardson returned to the field, he never abandoned his other responsibilities.
“I wasn’t out here, but I was going hard in the classroom and watching film on the iPad,” Richardson said. “Coach Del Rio always says to stay mentally strong, and I did that. I came out today and didn’t have any missed assignments, so I was happy with the day. Tomorrow is going to be a bigger workload, but I’m up for the challenge. I’m all in.”
Richardson is incredibly motivated to prove himself as an NFL running back. The third overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft has been a disappointment through three seasons. He was traded in his second year with the Cleveland Browns and cut after nearly two with the Indianapolis Colts.
This is probably Richardson’s last shot to show what he can do. There was pessimism surrounding his performance in the offseason program, though he’ll have an opportunity to earn a role in this offense, which needs a solid backup to Latavius Murray, who has struggled with injuries as a pro.
“I’m very driven, first of all, because I’ve got kids,” Richardson said. “I also want to prove myself. Everybody wants to put pressure on me, and that’s fine because they expect greatness. I expect the same thing from myself.”