By Ryan Lewis
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: On WKYC’s (Channel 3) pregame show Thursday night, Bernie Kosar addressed the controversy surrounding his comments made during last week’s broadcast of the Browns preseason opener with the St. Louis Rams. As with the original on-air comments, Kosar was unapologetically honest.
Kosar said it is not his intent to hurt anyone with his comments, though he also didn’t apologize for them or back away from his brash, passionate style of announcing.
“I love the game so much, and there’s no way I’d want to disrespect or hurt or make fun of any players or coaches,” Kosar said. “That being said, the way I look at the game and the way I like to analyze it from a football perspective, it is what it is. Again, I don’t want to disrespect or hurt any of the players or coaches in the league. But I do like the way I look at the game, and I have strong feelings about how the game is played.
“The thing about football, it’s obviously a real physical game on and off the field, as we’re finding out. The beautiful thing about it is ultimately your performance, how you handle yourself on the field, determines success or failure.”
Last week, Kosar called the Rams receivers “horrible,” even saying he would be embarrassed if he were one of their parents. He then said Rams wide receivers coach Ray Sherman wasn’t doing a very good job, either. He was also very critical toward Rams third-string quarterback Kellen Clemens and turned an anecdote about Clemens and Pope Benedict XVI into a joke about having to watch Clemens for a whole quarter.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher verbally blasted Kosar, saying he lost respect for him.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King asked on Twitter if Kosar was drunk, and later apologized for that remark.
Browns CEO Joe Banner released a statement last Sunday night saying the team doesn’t condone the “personal and unprofessional approach” Kosar took toward the Rams during the broadcast.
Browns running back Montario Hardesty’s arthroscopic knee surgery “went as expected” Thursday, a team spokesman said.
Dr. Mark Schickendantz performed the surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.
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.
Hardesty was listed as Trent Richardson’s main backup, and third-string running back Dion Lewis fractured his left fibula in third quarter. So Brandon Jackson and Chris Ogbonnaya, who converted from tailback to fullback in the offseason, will vie for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart throughout the rest of the preseason.
The 6-foot, 225-pound Hardesty has been plagued by knee trouble throughout his career. He 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.
Hardesty, a second-round draft pick, had been sidelined for most of training camp with an injured hamstring tendon. He also dislocated his right thumb Monday before returning to practice Tuesday.
But his history of knee problems now presents the greatest threat to his roster spot. He missed practice Wednesday, prompting Browns coach Rob Chudzinski to announce the surgery would be taking place.
“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.”
Undrafted rookie kicker Brandon Bogotay was expected to get all the attempts for the Browns on Thursday night in what was a big audition in his competition with veteran kicker Shayne Graham. Chudzinski said he wanted to see how Bogotay handled making all the kicks, and he handled things well in the first half.
Two of Bogotay’s four kickoffs in the first half went for touchbacks.
He also nailed his only field-goal attempt, a 43-yarder in the first quarter before injuring his groin. Last week, against the Rams, he made a 25-yard attempt. Graham entered the game to kick an extra point in the fourth quarter. Bogotay said he expects to be ready for the next game Aug. 24 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Chris Owens received the start at cornerback opposite Joe Haden. He missed the Browns’ first preseason game with a foot arch strain. Buster Skrine, who started in his place last week, served as the team’s nickelback in three-receiver sets.
Owens was beat on a couple of short slant routes but played well for his first preseason action of the year. He and Skrine are locked in a battle for the starting cornerback job. The Browns’ third preseason game with the Colts should go a long way in determining who suits up with Haden against the Miami Dolphins in the regular-season opener Sept. 8.
Thursday night was the first time high draft picks Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah of the Lions and Barkevious Mingo, both pass rushers who were selected Nos. 5 and 6 overall in last April’s draft, had the opportunity to be on the same field with one another.
There weren’t many fireworks, though, especially for Mingo. He didn’t register a tackle and left in the second quarter with a bruised lung and was being kept at Cleveland Clinic main campus overnight as a precaution. Ansah showed nice explosiveness but had just two tackles and wasn’t much of a factor. Last week against the New York Jets, Ansah picked off a pass from Matt Sanchez and returned it for a touchdown, and Mingo had two quarterback hits and a would-be sack that was called off because of a penalty.
Inactives, lineup changes
Hardesty (knee), punter T.J. Conley (groin), wide receivers Jordan Norwood (hamstring) and David Nelson (knee), cornerback Leon McFadden (groin), safety Jamoris Slaughter (hamstring), fullback Brock Bolen (calf), strong safety T.J. Ward (hamstring), offensive linemen Ryan Miller (concussion), Shawn Lauvao (ankle), Chris Faulk (knee) and Oniel Cousins (ankle) and defensive end Hall Davis (hamstring) were inactive for the Browns.
Jason Pinkston continued to play at right guard in place of Lauvao, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle last week. But Pinkston left the game in the first quarter with a sprained ankle and was replaced by rookie Garrett Gilkey, a seventh-round draft pick.
Undrafted rookie Josh Aubrey started in place of Ward, who practiced all week but was held out with a sore hamstring as a precaution.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/browns.abj.