By Tony Grossi
Wide receiver Carlton Mitchell is the biggest name on the first batch of Browns roster cuts. But the biggest move in the wake of the team's error-prone performance against the Philadelphia Eagles was running back Brandon Jackson apparently jumping ahead of Montario Hardesty as the top backup to Trent Richardson.
Hardesty had his second fumble in as many games Friday night. He also missed a chip-block on the botched screen pass that resulted in Brandon Weeden's first fumble.
"We had a big meeting last night lining them up," coach Pat Shurmur said before Sunday's practice. "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. That’s just the way it is."
Jackson practiced with the first team on Sunday. Hardesty did very little other than individual and position drills.
Shurmur also said he was "very optimistic" that No. 1 pick Richardson will be ready for the season opener Sept. 9 against the Eagles. Richardson has not been on the field since having an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee on Aug. 9.
Mitchell was a healthy scratch on Friday night. He missed the Green Bay game with a recurrent leg muscle injury. In the Detroit game, he had one catch for 33 yards.
Mitchell’s third Browns training camp was marred by a leg muscle injury that kept him on the sidelines too much for him to climb a suddenly crowded depth chart at receiver. Mitchell also missed a lot of the 2011 camp with a broken finger.
Last week, Mitchell told ESPN Cleveland, “For things to happen the way they did, it’s very unfortunate. But everything’s for a reason.”
Shurmur said, "Unfortunately, the last couple years he’s dealt with injuries. If you’re a guy that’s proven you can play in this league and you’re injured, that’s in your favor. For guys that haven’t proven they can play and you struggle to stay on the field at practice, that’s not in your favor. I have a lot of respect for Carlton. He’s flashed and done some things for us."
The 6-3, 215-pound Mitchell is just the third draft pick of 28 made by GM Tom Heckert in three years to be released. All of those are from Heckert’s first draft in 2010 – safety Larry Asante (fifth round), Mitchell (sixth) and defensive lineman Cliff Geathers (sixth).
The other cuts made by the Browns on Sunday:
Offensive lineman Jake Anderson, offensive lineman Matt Cleveland, defensive back Emanuel Davis, linebacker JoJo Dickson, punter Spencer Lanning, receiver Bert Reed, receiver Jermaine Saffold and receiver Owen Spencer.
The Browns’ roster is at 80 players. It must be down to 75 on Monday and down to 53 on Friday.
On other topics:
* Shurmur continued to be strangely noncommittal about the backup quarterback situation. While he praised the play of Colt McCoy, who has played as the second quarterback in each of the three games and takes snaps mostly with the second team, Shurmur said he won't disclose his plans until the final cuts.
On McCoy, he said, "I think he’s done an outstanding job here in training camp. I’m very pleased with where he’s at. I’ve gained an even greater appreciation for him, the way he’s competed, the way he’s handled the situation. I’m very impressed with how he’s doing. I think that’s good for our team.
"He understands one of the primary things to understand as a backup – be ready to play. Because you’re an ankle injury from being in there. He’s been on both sides of it. So he understands it. And he’s had a full year now to get to know our system better and I think it’s showing up."
* Shurmur confirmed defensive end Marcus Benard suffered a dislocated elbow in the Philadelphia game. He would not say how long Benard would be out.
* A team source said that the real reason cornerback Joe Haden was removed from practice on Wednesday was because of his reaction to "a coaching point." The source said Haden was removed from a red zone drill because of the way he pulled down Travis Benjamin to the ground. When Shurmur voiced the fact Haden had been warned before, Haden's reaction then got him yanked from the practice.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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