GREEN BAY, Wis.: The curious case of Mohamed Massaquoi continued to unfold Thursday night at Lambeau Field.
Massaquoi, a projected starting wide receiver, ran routes, caught passes and stretched about two hours before the Browns’ exhibition game against the Green Bay Packers. He looked like he was ready to go.
Still, the Browns announced before the game that Massaquoi would sit out.
Last Friday in the preseason opener, Massaquoi caught a 12-yard pass and absorbed a hit to his helmet from free safety Erik Coleman during the Browns’ first offensive play. After the game, Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Massaquoi suffered a concussion, a diagnosis Massaquoi disputed via Twitter.
On Sunday, Shurmur reiterated Massaquoi had a concussion. Massaquoi then participated in team drills Tuesday upon returning to practice and contradicted Shurmur again.
“I feel great, always felt great, never developed a symptom or anything,” Massaquoi said Tuesday after practice. “Everything that was done was strictly precautionary because of the type of the hit, the way that the hit looked.”
A Browns spokesman said Massaquoi was sidelined Thursday because the team was erring on the side of caution, not because he suffered a setback. He has been medically cleared to practice and play in games, the spokesman said.
With Massaquoi sitting out, rookie Josh Gordon, a second-round pick in the supplemental draft, replaced him in the starting lineup opposite Greg Little.
Massaquoi was one of the Browns’ nine projected starters who did not play against the Packers.
Other lineup changes
Running back Montario Hardesty started in place of rookie Trent Richardson, who’s recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Aug. 9. Alex Smith and Evan Moore started in a double tight end formation with Benjamin Watson (undisclosed) and Jordan Cameron (back) out.
Weakside linebacker Kaluka Maiava started for Chris Gocong, who’s out for the season after tearing his right Achilles tendon Aug. 4 and having surgery Aug. 10. Rookie strongside linebacker James-Michael Johnson filled in for Scott Fujita (left leg), and undrafted rookie middle linebacker L.J. Fort replaced D’Qwell Jackson (reported sore shoulder).
Rookie defensive tackles Billy Winn and John Hughes started in place of Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor, respectively. Rubin reportedly had surgery in the offseason to repair a slightly torn pelvic muscle and has not played in a preseason game this year, despite returning to practice on Aug. 2 and not missing any of training camp since. Taylor, meanwhile, is out until at least late October as he rehabilitates his surgically repaired left pectoral muscle.
Right defensive end Emmanuel Stephens filled in for Frostee Rucker (right knee).
The Browns’ top nickel cornerback, Dimitri Patterson (right ankle), was out, too. Rookie Trevin Wade filled Patterson’s role.
Wide receiver Carlton Mitchell (right leg), strong safety Usama Young (reported hamstring), defensive tackle Scott Paxson (right knee) and rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin (undisclosed) were inactive as well.
In the booth
Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron called plays Thursday from the press box, as he did last week against the Detroit Lions. He plans to stay in the booth all season after guiding the defense from the sideline last year.
“There are parts of both of them that are better,” Jauron said. “Upstairs, you’re away from the great emotion on the field. It makes it sometimes easier to call, definitely easier to see. On the field, you can generally see the side of the field closest to you. You can’t see the far side. Up in the box, I can help a little bit with personnel. … I’d rather be able to look the players in the eye and be down there [on the field] with them, but we’ll see where it goes.”
Browns play-by-play man Jim Donovan did not make the trip to Wisconsin because he was “just a little under the weather,” a team spokesman said. Andrew Catalon joined former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar for the telecast on WKYC (Channel 3). Catalon substituted for Donovan during the 2011 preseason as the latter recovered from a bone marrow transplant to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Donovan is expected to return for the Browns’ preseason game Aug. 24 at home against the Philadelphia Eagles. … Punter Reggie Hodges, left defensive end Jabaal Sheard and center Alex Mack served as the Browns captains. ... The Browns used Josh Cribbs as a kickoff and punt returner in the first half Thursday. He didn’t have any returns last week against the Lions.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.