BEREA: The Browns signed Usama Young last summer and publicly expressed their desire to make him a starting safety alongside T.J. Ward.
Now Young, a Kent State product, appears to be on the roster bubble with final cuts on the horizon.
The Browns made several moves Monday, including placing defensive end Marcus Benard on the waived/injured list and rookie linebacker Emmanuel Acho on injured reserve, to trim their roster to 75 players. They must whittle it down to 53 players by 9 p.m. Friday.
Young appears to be in danger partly because he missed most of training camp with what he said is a quadriceps injury, not a pulled hamstring, as was previously reported. He has participated in the past two practices after being sidelined since Aug. 2.
“Being hurt, I can never look at it like, ‘Hey, they know what I’ve done in the past,’ ” Young said. “I know that this is a business, and they want guys out on the field that can play. I just rush myself to get out there. I’m like, ‘Forget what all the coaches are saying, forget what the media is saying, whatever, I’ve got to get back out there.’ ”
Young is hoping he made it back in time.
“God willing,” he said. “[I went through] a lot of hard work in the training room and a lot of hard work in the film room. Looking at those guys making some plays, it adds some fuel to the fire. You want to get out there.”
Strong safety David Sims is one of Young’s teammates who has excelled this summer. Sims was sidelined Monday with an undisclosed injury of his own, but he has already earned attention by compiling two interceptions this preseason — three if a roughing-the-passer penalty hadn’t wiped another one out.
“I think a guy in [Sims’] position to make this roster has got to do a couple of things,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “No. 1, we’ve got to feel comfortable enough with him playing the safety position to keep him, and then also he needs to establish himself as a special-teams player. And I think he’s caught our eyes in both ways.”
If the Browns keep five safeties, as they did last year, Young and Sims will probably survive cuts. If they keep only four, one of them might be the odd man out.
“He’s found a way to stay pretty healthy throughout the seasons,” Shurmur said of Young. “This is not the first training camp where he’s had some injuries to deal with, so we’re factoring that in. Of course, any time you’re not practicing, it slows your ability to learn the system, get used to the guys you’re with and then, of course, get your body right for a 16-plus game season. Those are all things we’ve got to factor in.”
In addition to Benard, who dislocated his left elbow Friday in a 27-10 preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Browns waived/injured defensive end Auston English (undisclosed) and undrafted rookie cornerback Antwuan Reed (left leg). If those players clear waivers, the Browns can place them on injured reserve or reach an injury settlement with them.
The team also placed sixth-round draft pick Acho (undisclosed) and linebacker Chris Gocong (torn right Achilles tendon Aug. 4) on injured reserve and defensive tackle Phil Taylor on the reserve physically unable to perform list.
Taylor, who tore his left pectoral muscle in May, must miss the first six weeks of the regular season. He’ll then have a 21-day window in which he may start practicing. Once he returns to practice, the Browns will have another three-week period to activate him or place him on injured reserve.
The Browns also were awarded undrafted rookie defensive lineman Ernest Owusu off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Owusu was a four-year letterman at the University of California, where he appeared in 42 games with 18 starts. He had 55 tackles, eight sacks and one forced fumble.
The moves involving Gocong and Taylor, both of whom are starters, were formalities, so the news about Benard is the most noteworthy. He led the team with 7 ½ sacks in 2010 and was fighting for a roster spot this summer after missing most of last season with injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident in October.
Back in action
Running back Montario Hardesty participated in team drills with the first unit after sitting out team sessions the previous day and being replaced by Brandon Jackson.
Shurmur said Hardesty, who continued to wear a sleeve on his right leg, has not been demoted. Jackson still got some work with the first-team offense in third-down situations.
“He’s just sore from the game,” Shurmur said of Hardesty, who has fumbled in each of the past two exhibition games. “He’s fine. I’m [ticked] – you know, I want us to play better, and I don’t want to turn the ball over. But he’s fine.”
Rookie defensive tackles Billy Winn and John Hughes will be part of a rotation used to fill the void created by Taylor’s injury, Shurmur said.
“I think we’re both very confident,” Winn said. “We’re gonna have a rotation in there solely because you want to have fresh bodies in there and fresh legs and be able to constantly run around and make things happen.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.