Browns running back Montario Hardesty did not participate in team drills today, and Brandon Jackson took his place with the first-team offense.
Hardesty worked in individual drills but wore a black sleeve on his lower right leg as he stood and watched team sessions.
Still, Hardesty insisted he’s healthy. He did not play in six games last season as he dealt with a torn muscle in his right calf.
“I’m good, just a little rest, gave me a little rest today,” Hardesty said. “I’m good. I’m fine.”
Jackson said he doesn’t know whether he has been promoted.
“I don’t want to jump the gun,” Jackson said. “But it feels good to be out there with the ones.”
Hardesty has fumbled in each of the past two preseason games, but he said he doesn’t view today’s practice as demotion.
“I can’t give up the ball backed up,” Hardesty said. “That’s something that I already know, and [the coaches] reiterated it today. I can’t do that. I’ve gotta make sure that we keep the ball and just keeping moving forward, especially in those positions. I can’t put our defense out in those positions like that where now I’m giving the other team three or seven points.”
During his morning news conference, Browns coach Pat Shurmur said it’s difficult for him to play running backs who repeatedly fumble.
“[Hardesty and Jackson] are always competing, and we had a big meeting last night lining them up,” Shurmur said. “I think both guys have impressed me in a lot of ways this training camp.
“I will say this: running backs that fumble, if you do it on a consistent basis, it’s tough to put you in the game. I’ll just say that. That’s fair. That’s one of those football things. That’s just the way it is.”
Strong safety Usama Young practiced today for the first time since Aug. 1. He missed most of training camp after reportedly suffering a pulled hamstring.
The following 14 players sat out during practice: cornerback Dimitri Patterson (right ankle), running back Chris Ogbonnaya (left ankle), rookie running back Trent Richardson (had arthroscopic surgery on left knee Aug. 9), undrafted rookie running back Antwuan Reed (left leg), strong safety Ray Ventrone (right hamstring), weakside linebacker Chris Gocong (had surgery Aug. 10 to repair torn right Achilles’ tendon and is out for the season), defensive end Marcus Benard (dislocated left elbow), rookie linebacker Emmanuel Acho (undisclosed), defensive tackle Scott Paxson (right knee), offensive lineman Oniel Cousins (right leg), tight end Benjamin Watson (undisclosed), defensive tackle Brian Schaefering (undisclosed), defensive tackle Phil Taylor (had surgery to repair torn pectoral muscle May 16 and is out at least until late October) and strongside linebacker Scott Fujita (wore brace on left knee Wednesday while watching practice).