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Browns notes: Knee surgery becomes latest obstacle in RB Montario Hardesty's fight to make roster

By Nate Ulrich Published: August 14, 2013

Knee trouble continues to haunt Browns running back Montario Hardesty.

Hardesty will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday, coach Rob Chudzinski said today during his post-practice news conference. Hardesty will be out for at least the first two regular-season games because the minimum recovery time for a knee scope is usually about a month.

The Browns will host the Detroit Lions in the second exhibition game Thursday night.

Hardesty missed most of training camp with an injured hamstring tendon and dislocated his right thumb Monday before returning to practice Tuesday. But it’s his history of knee problems that has crept up again and will force him to undergo a procedure.

“His knee’s been nagging him for a little bit,” Chudzinski said. “This is unrelated to the hamstring tendon that he had injured that kept him out earlier in camp. So he’s going to have a scope tomorrow on that.”

Chudzinski said he didn’t have a timetable for Hardesty’s return.

“We’ll have to see after he gets that [scope],” Chudzinski said. “It’s just to clean it up.”

Chudzinski said he didn’t know which knee Hardesty will have scoped, but it’s almost irrelevant because he has had a torn anterior ligament repaired in each one. Hardesty suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during the 2010 preseason finale, wiping out his entire rookie season with the Browns. As a freshman at the University of Tennessee in 2005, he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee.

“You just have to keep coming back and keep fighting,” Chudzinski said. “I think that theme we’ve talked about a lot, and it applies everywhere in this game. And he’ll make it back.”

Even before Chudzinski revealed the news about Hardesty’s knee, his chances of securing a roster spot seemed tenuous because he had missed all or part of 11 of 17 training camp practices with the hamstring and thumb injuries. The latest setback will only further hurt Hardesty's bid for a job.

“We’ll just have to see what time [he misses] and when he gets back and then balance that with the other guys and how they’re doing and how they do in the next couple weeks,” Chudzinski said.

Hardesty, a second-round draft pick, is listed as the No. 2 running back on the depth chart behind starter Trent Richardson. Dion Lewis is third and Brandon Jackson is fourth. Chris Ogbonnaya is listed as the team’s top fullback, but he has played tailback throughout his career.

Can Lewis Richardson’s primary backup?

“We’ll see,” Chudzinski said. “I think he’s shown well this camp.”

Richardson, Lewis, Jackson and Ogbonnaya will play Thursday against the Lions.

“I think Dion’s had a really good camp and showing some things he can do,” Chudzinski said. “And Brandon Jackson can run the football, and it’ll be good to get Trent out and back again. And Ogbonnaya has shown his versatility in all areas whether at tailback or fullback.”

Another surgery

Undrafted rookie offensive lineman Chris Faulk had arthroscopic surgery Monday on his right knee, Chudzinski said. In Louisiana State University’s 2012 season opener, Faulk suffered torn medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments in the same knee.

Will Faulk be placed on injured reserve?

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Chudzinski said.

Other injury updates

Strong safety T.J. Ward (hamstring) probably won’t face the Lions, Chudzinski said. Ward has been practicing all week, but he also sat out last week against the St. Louis Rams.

“T.J. has been working all week long, feel good about him,” Chudzinski said. “We’ll probably hold him for the game. Nothing wrong, just want to be smart about it and get him ready for the season.”

Cornerback Chris Owens (strained arch of foot) will play against the Lions, Chudzinski said. Owens spent time with the first-team defense today. He and Buster Skrine are locked in a competition for the starting cornerback job opposite Joe Haden.

“I think both of those guys have really shown a lot,” Chudzinski said. “It’s not just about winning one position but showing that you can play and we’ll find a place for you. So I’m anxious to see him back out on the field as well as seeing Buster.”

Punter T.J. Conley (slight groin strain) and wide receiver Jordan Norwood (hamstring) did not practice today and will be game-time decisions Thursday, Chudzinski said. Wide receiver David Nelson (knee) did not practice, either, and he will be sidelined against the Lions.

Rookie cornerback Leon McFadden (groin) returned to practice today and participated in team drills, but it’s doubtful he’ll face the Lions, Chudzinski said.

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