The Browns are planning to release running back Montario Hardesty from injured reserve Monday after team doctors medically clear him, NFL Network reported today.
The move is not a surprise. When the Browns placed Hardesty on IR Aug. 27 after he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, it seemed to signal the end of his career with the organization.
Former Browns General Manager Tom Heckert traded up into the second round of the 2010 draft to select Hardesty despite his medical history. Hardesty suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in 2005 as a freshman at the University of Tennessee before a torn ACL in his left knee wiped out his entire rookie season with the Browns.
Hardesty’s left knee bothered him this past summer in training camp, so he underwent arthroscopic surgery Aug. 15. Hindered by other leg injuries, Hardesty has played in only 23 games, including five starts, since being drafted. He has compiled 153 carries for 537 yards (3.5 average) and one touchdown to go along with 16 catches for 138 yards.
The Browns have gone through several changes at running back this season.
In the preseason, Hardesty was listed second on the depth chart, and fellow running back Dion Lewis was No. 3 until he was lost for the season Aug. 15 with a fractured fibula. And, of course, the Browns traded starting running back Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in last year’s draft, to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a 2014 first-round pick on Sept. 18.