BEREA: A neck injury suffered by Browns linebacker Scott Fujita on Oct. 7 against the New York Giants could end the 11-year veteran’s career, a league source confirmed Monday evening.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen first reported Fujita’s condition on Monday Night Countdown and said on Twitter that both the Browns and Fujita fear he might have played his last game.
Fujita did not immediately respond to an email from the Beacon Journal.
Fujita was inactive in Sunday’s 34-24 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals with what was initially listed as a shoulder injury. He played in the previous four games, starting three, while battling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over his Bountygate suspension that landed him on the reserve/suspended list for the opener. His suspension was reduced last week from three games to one, but Fujita continues to appeal.
A fifth-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2002, Fujita also played for the Dallas Cowboys and won a Super Bowl in 2009 with the New Orleans Saints. He has started 125 of 143 career games.
Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson suffered a right rib cartilage injury against the Bengals and is “day-to-day,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Monday.
The third overall pick, Richardson was hurt during the Browns’ first series. But he didn’t leave the game for good until midway through the third quarter, when he missed Robert Geathers on pass protection, resulting in a 4-yard sack. Usually willing to take on defenders, Richardson barely put a hand on Geathers.
“Trent’s fine,” Shurmur said Monday.
Richardson vowed after the game he would play Sunday, when the Browns (1-5) visit the Indianapolis Colts (2-3).
“I’ll be back. I’ll be ready for next week,” Richardson said.
That decision will likely be out of his hands. Richardson rushed for 37 yards on 14 carries and caught two passes for 17 yards, increasing his season totals to 340 yards on 95 attempts (3.6 average) and four touchdowns and a team-high 22 receptions for 186 yards and another touchdown.
Taking over against the Bengals was Montario Hardesty, a second-round pick in 2010 who hadn’t had a carry in the previous five games. Hardesty picked up 56 yards on 15 attempts, scored on a 1-yard run and caught one pass for 9 yards.
“When guys come in in a backup role or you bring them in from the dugout, they have to produce,” Shurmur said of Hardesty on Monday. “He stepped up his game and played well.”
Asked why Hardesty’s 3.7 yards per carry was better than Richardson’s 2.6, Shurmur said, “If Richardson would have played the full game you might have seen the same numbers from Trent. But if we want to strictly talk about Montario, he was running the ball hard and he was making quick decisions and he was getting it and hitting it. I was very impressed with his running style.”
The Colts, 29th in the league in run defense, allowed the New York Jets’ Shonn Greene to rush for a career-high 161 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries in the Jets’ 35-9 victory.
Holmgren staying home
Browns President Mike Holmgren will not attend today’s NFL owners meeting in Chicago where league owners will vote to approve the sale of the Browns from Randy Lerner to Jimmy Haslam III, according to a team spokesman. Bryan Wiedmeier, the Browns’ executive vice president of business operations, will be there, the spokesman said.
Former Eagles President Joe Banner, reportedly tabbed to be Haslam’s right-hand man, is not expected at the meeting.
Shurmur said he heard from Lerner, who texted him congratulations on the season’s first victory. “I have texted back and forth with him frequently,” Shurmur said.
No hurry on Taylor
Shurmur didn’t sound in any hurry to rush defensive tackle Phil Taylor back on the practice field.
Taylor suffered a torn pectoral in May that needed surgery. On the physically unable to perform list, Taylor is eligible to return to practice this week, but that starts a 21-day clock for the Browns to activate him or put him on injured reserve for the season.
“We are going to get going here soon,” Shurmur said. “I’ll let that play itself out here. But he’s absolutely where we thought he would be at this point.”
Savoring the win
Browns co-captain D’Qwell Jackson said he believed Shurmur needed the victory most, but Shurmur didn’t agree.
“I think we needed it,” he said. “You guys have known me long enough. This isn’t about me. This is about my players. This is about our city. This is about trying to build a consistent winner.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read the her blog at http://www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.