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Browns at Philadelphia Eagles: 10 players to watch Thursday night

By Nate Ulrich Published: August 24, 2011
Cleveland Browns running back Montario Hardesty stretches during practice at the NFL football team's training camp Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Before the Browns' first two preseason games of the year, I gave you lists of players to watch (first edition and second edition). I usually don't use the same players twice, but I had to make an exception this time. Anyway, here's another set of Browns players to keep an eye on Thursday night, when Cleveland visits the Philadelphia Eagles in the third exhibition game of the year for both teams:

  1. Running back Montario Hardesty (No. 31): He is the aforementioned exception to the rule. Hardesty made the list last week just in case he ended up playing against the Green Bay Packers. That didn't happen, but coach Pat Shurmur said Hardesty will play Thursday night against the Eagles. Hardesty, who's pictured to the left, tore the ACL in his left knee last September, so all eyes will be on him when he carries the ball during his 2011 preseason debut. Will he be able to bounce back from his second reconstructive knee surgery -- he tore his right ACL in 2005 -- and contribute this season?

  2. Tight end Evan Moore (No. 89): Last Friday, he became the first Browns player to score two touchdowns in a preseason game since wide receiver Ricky Feacher in 1981. But Moore also left the game with a concussion, the second one he has suffered in less than a year. He returned to practice Tuesday and dominated red-zone drills. Can he bounce back and stay on track for what could be his breakout season?

  3. Strongside linebacker Scott Fujita (No. 99): He missed last week's game with a bruised thigh, but he returned to practice this week and should be ready for action against the Eagles. Like Moore, Fujita has been plagued by injuries. He suffered a season-ending torn MCL in his left knee last season, but it did not require surgery. Will he be able to stay healthy and help guide the Browns in their switch to a 4-3 scheme?

  4. Wide receiver Brian Robiskie (No. 80): He is engaged in an interesting position battle and could benefit from a standout performance. So far, Robiskie has only one catch in the preseason. The Browns eventually will need to decide how to divide playing time among Robiskie, rookie Greg Little, Jordan Norwood, Mohamed Massaquoi (injured bone in his left foot) and Josh Cribbs (tweaked hamstring), assuming they all make the team and become healthy at some point. Can Robiskie ensure he won't become the odd man out?

  5. Cornerback Ramzee Robinson (No, 38): He served as the first-team nickel back during practice Tuesday. The role has also been filled by rookie Buster Skrine and veteran Dimitri Patterson throughout camp. Is Robinson making a push as the dark horse in an often overlooked position battle?

  6. Fullback Owen Marecic (No. 48): He was drafted in the fourth round of this year's draft as the replacement for Lawrence Vickers, who landed with the Houston Texans via free agency. Marecic has been sharp throughout camp, but he has had glaring miscues in each of the Browns' first two preseason games. In the exhibition opener, he hesitated to pick up a lateral from quarterback Colt McCoy, and last week he dropped a pass when he was wide open. Will he prove to be the type of pass-catching fullback Shurmur wants in his West Coast offense?

  7. Tight end Jordan Cameron (No. 84): He had a strong start to camp, but faded after suffering a hamstring injury. He has three catches in the first two preseason games, but his longest reception was for only 6 yards. Will he flash as a playmaker again?

  8. Running back Armond Smith (No. 35): He had an 81-yard touchdown run last week, but he followed it up with two lost fumbles that helped the Detroit Lions rally and win the game. With fellow backs Peyton Hillis (sore back) and Brandon Jackson (toe) banged up, he could receive more playing time once the Browns have seen enough of Hardesty. Will he redeem himself?

  9. Offensive lineman Branndon Braxton (No. 63): He had a key block last week that helped spring Smith's 81-yard touchdown run. Braxton was playing left tackle at the time, but he has filled several spots on the offensive line throughout camp. This week, he played right guard with the second-team offense. Can he continue to turn heads no matter where he lines up?

  10. Strong safety Ray Ventrone (No. 41): He is expected to make his second consecutive start in place of T.J. Ward, who has been out with a hamstring problem. Ventrone, a special-teams ace throughout his career, is tied for second in tackles with eight. Can he continue to capitalize on his opportunities?


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