Third-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and backup running back Montario Hardesty are one step closer to starting Sunday when the Browns (5-10) visit the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8).
Quarterbacks Brandon Weeden (sprained right shoulder) and Colt McCoy (right shoulder), running back Trent Richardson (left ankle) and cornerback Sheldon Brown (concussion) won’t practice today but still haven’t been ruled out for Sunday, coach Pat Shurmur said this morning during a news conference.
Shurmur said he won’t wait until game time to rule any of them out if they cannot play. In other words, Shurmur will likely rule them out Friday if they’re going to sit out.
Of course, if Weeden and McCoy are out, Lewis would play in an NFL regular-season game for the first time. If that becomes the case, Josh Johnson would serve as Lewis’ backup.
“He’s got a live arm,” Shurmur said of Lewis. “He’s very athletic. He’ll execute our offense the right way and I’m glad he’s going to, if he becomes the starter here, will have an opportunity. He’ll do a good job.”
The Browns signed Johnson off the street this week, and Shurmur said the decision was a result of a discussion between he, CEO Joe Banner, General Manager Tom Heckert. They considered re-signing Seneca Wallace.
“We considered Seneca, yeah,” Shurmur said. “We decided to go with Josh.”
Shurmur said Hardesty would start at running back and Brandon Jackson would be active if Richardson is out. Offensive coordinator Brad Childress said Richardson could be a “spot player” if he’s able to play Sunday.
Shurmur said he does not have a meeting scheduled Monday with owner Jimmy Haslam or CEO Joe Banner regarding his future. He stressed he’s focused on the Steelers.
“[Our preparation is] no different,” Shurmur said. “Listen, I get this. My concerns are for our team and making sure that we do all the right things during the game to give our guys the best chance to win. And then at some point after that, I’ll begin to think about what goes on from that. But I’m not worrying about it.”
Shurmur reflected a bit on his tenure with the Browns.
“I think we’ve made improvements, some may say not fast enough,” Shurmur said. “But I think we’ve made improvements. And I think we came into a less-than-ideal situation when we got here. Every situation is different, and I’m proud of that. I’m proud of the work that the guys that I hired did in terms of inspiring the players to improve.
“We have not won enough football games. And I know that’s the way this thing works. But in our situation, I see improvement. And I’ll leave it at that. The rest of it, going in depth with all that, I think that’s a discussion for after we play Pittsburgh.
Browns middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and kicker Phil Dawson each earned awards from the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) for this season.
Dawson was named the PFWA Player of the Year and Jackson was named the PFWA Dino Lucarelli Good Guy Award winner. The Good Guy Award is given to a player for his cooperation with the media and for the way he carries himself in the community and with his teammates.
Dawson and Jackson will be honored at the 34th annual Akron Browns Backers banquet May 20 at Tangier restaurant in Akron.
Shurmur said he has not asked McCoy to explain his comments about throwing the ball into the dirt late in the Browns’ 34-12 loss to the Denver Broncos because his teammates were tired. … In addition to Weeden, McCoy, Richardson and Brown, tight end Jordan Cameron (head) did not practice today.