Updated following practice
Browns coach Pat Shurmur met with reporters this morning before practice. Here are some highlights from the news conference:
Running back Montario Hardesty practiced with the first-team offense today after sitting out team drills Sunday. Brandon Jackson, who took Hardesty’s spot with the first-team offense Sunday, substituted for Hardesty today on third downs.
Shurmur insisted this morning that Hardesty has not been demoted, even though he has fumbled in each of the past two preseason games. Hardesty began serving as the team’s No. 1 running back after rookie Trent Richardson stopped practicing Aug. 7 and had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Aug. 9.
“No, not at all,” Shurmur said when asked whether Hardesty has been demoted. “Not at all.”
Hardesty was sidelined in six games last season as he dealt with a torn muscle in his right calf. He wore a sleeve on his right leg in each of the past two practices but said he was fine.
“He’s just sore from the game,” Shurmur said. “He’s fine. I’m pissed – you know, I want us to play better, and I don’t want to turn the ball over. But he’s fine.”
In the Browns' preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, strong safety David Sims had his second interception return for a touchdown since the exhibition games began, but the play was negated by a roughing-the-passer penalty. Still, Sims strengthened his case to make the team.
The Browns must trim their roster to 75 players by 4 p.m. today, and Shurmur said the team will have some moves to announce later today. Teams must cut their rosters to 53 players by 9 p.m. Friday.
“I think a guy in [Sims’] position to make this roster has got to do a couple of things,” Shurmur said. “No. 1, we’ve got to feel comfortable enough with him playing the safety position to keep him, and then also he needs to establish himself as a special-teams player. And I think he’s caught our eyes in both ways.”
If Sims survives cuts, strong safety Usama Young might be in danger of losing his roster spot. Young missed almost all of training camp with a reported pulled hamstring before returning to practice Sunday.
“He’s found a way to stay pretty healthy throughout the seasons,” Shurmur said of Young. “This is not the first training camp where he’s had some injuries to deal with. So we’re factoring that in. Of course, any time you’re not practicing, it slows your ability to learn the system, get used to the guys you’re with and then, of course, get your body right for a 16-plus game season. Those are all things we’ve got to factor in.”
Rookie defensive tackle Billy Winn started Friday in the Browns’ preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
“He’s done an excellent job in the preseason,” Shurmur said of Winn. “Each week I see something better and different about him, and I think he’s done an excellent job in the preseason. I think he plays fast. There’s some quickness to him. He finds a way to free himself up in there, which is hard.”
Shurmur said Winn and rookie defensive tackle John Hughes, who started the first two exhibition games, will be part of a rotation used to fill the void created by Phil Taylor’s injury. Taylor will be sidelined at least until late October as he recovers from a torn left pectoral muscle.
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