BEREA — The Browns won’t know until Sunday morning if No. 1 cornerback Joe Haden will play Sunday afternoon against the Dallas Cowboys.
Haden missed practice Friday for the second straight day after straining an oblique muscle Wednesday during position drills. He was listed as questionable on the official injury report.
“He’ll be a gametime decision,” coach Pat Shurmur said after practice. “It’s something that can happen with a very harmless movement.
“He feels better today. We’ll get him ready to go and if he can play, he will. If not, then we’ll adjust.”
Haden, who served a four-game suspension in Weeks 2-5 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, was excited to return after the bye and vowed to play like a “lockdown dude again” and help the team make a second-half push. The Browns went 0-4 without him and gave up 30.5 points per game.
“Joe definitely wants to play and he’s doing everything he can to get back,” said nickelback Buster Skrine, who would replace Haden in the starting lineup. “He’s going to do whatever he can do to get out there.”
The Browns are already short-handed at corner with Dimitri Patterson still sidelined by a high ankle sprain and torn ligaments. He will miss his fifth straight game.
If Haden doesn’t play, Sheldon Brown and Skrine would start, with rookie Trevin Wade as the nickelback. Rookie Johnson Bademosi is the only other healthy corner, and he hasn’t played a snap on defense this year. Safeties Usama Young, Eric Hagg and Tashaun Gipson could also be used in coverage.
“Let’s not everybody get worried now,” Shurmur said. “The next guy will do a terrific job (if needed), that’s what’s going to happen.”
“We’re going to load up the plane with our guys, go down there and play a football game. I’m excited about the work we put in. I’m excited about the team we’re going to take down there, and we’re going to make every effort to do what it takes to win the game.”
Wade played as the nickelback a couple of times early in the year because of injuries but has been used rarely in the month since Haden’s return. He would face veteran playmaking receiver Miles Austin in the slot.
“He’s one of the rookies that have been in here that has done an outstanding job of getting up to speed,” Shurmur said. “He gets better every time he gets an opportunity to either practice or play.”