BEREA — Running back Trent Richardson, safety T.J. Ward, and guard Shawn Lauvao will not play tonight when the Browns open their preseason against the St. Louis Rams.
Richardson (right shin bruise) and Ward (hamstring strain) have practiced on a limited basis this week, while fellow starter Lauvao (right ankle) was injured Monday at training camp when he became entangled with nose tackle Phil Taylor in a one-on-one drill.
“We’re going to hold Trent and T.J. out, even though those guys would be available to play normally,” Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski said Wednesday following practice. “But since it’s the preseason, we’re going to be smart with them.”
Richardson had repeatedly vowed to play in all four exhibition games this season, but was overruled by his first-year coach for precautionary reasons.
Somewhat surprisingly, Chudzinski will not commit to playing the second-year pro in the remaining three preseason contests.
“We’ll just take it through from day to day with Trent,” he said. “He understands that we’re building him to be ready for the beginning of the season.
“I want guys to prepare like they’re going to play every game, but we will make those determinations and let them know (if they will play) as it gets closer to the game.”
Chudzinski again refused to offer details on Lauvao’s injury, even though the 6-foot-3, 315-pounder has undergone two full days of medical tests since being taken off the field on a cart.
Jason Pinkston — formerly a starter at left guard — will fill Lauvao’s role on the right side of the line. It will be the first game action for Pinkston since he developed blood clots in his lungs last October.
Dion Lewis and Chris Ogbonnaya are slated to split Richardson’s in the backfield, while Johnson Bademosi takes over for Ward at strong safety.
Nine other Browns have been ruled out from suiting up at FirstEnergy Stadium, including rookie cornerback Leon McFadden (groin) and rookie defensive end Dave Kruger (concussion).
Running back Montario Hardesty (hamstring) and wide receiver David Nelson (knee) — veterans clearly on the roster bubble — will not play, along with fullbacks Brad Smelley (hamstring) and Brock Bolen (calf), and tackles Oniel Cousins (ankle), Ryan Miller (concussion) and Chris Faulk (knee).
“Those are guys we haven’t seen a lot of, and I’d like to see them out there,” Chudzinski said. “A lot of times, it’s not under their control or my control, but hopefully we’ll get a chance to see them soon.”
Several Browns rookies were forced to have their hair cut by Taylor and linebacker Quentin Groves as part of their initiation to the NFL.
Among the victims were linebacker Barkevious Mingo, defensive end Armonty Bryant, tackle Martin Wallace and kicker Brandon Bogotay.
“Oh man, I was watching. Big Phil was the professional barber,” cornerback Joe Haden said, laughing. “Greg (Little) got somebody, Phil got somebody, Mingo (had his hair cut), so I think we got four people. They look terrible. They look terrible.”
Though mean-spirited hazing is not tolerated in the NFL, sophomoric pranks like bad haircuts and taping players to goalposts are generally accepted.
“As long as it’s positive and the guys embrace it, I’m all for that and have no problem with it,” Chudzinski said. “I know we have some bad barbers in the locker room, based on some of the haircuts I saw.”
As Haden noted, high draft picks are often able to buy their way out of hazing, which he did in 2010 by purchasing iPads for every member of the defense.
“When T.J. (Ward) and me came in, we had a bunch of older players like D-Bo (linebacker David Bowens) who weren’t really worried about that stuff,” said Haden, who was the seventh overall selection.
“But buying the whole defense iPads was a lot worse than getting my hair cut. I would have rather got a chip out of the side of my head than do that.”
Quarterback Brian Hoyer grew up in North Olmsted as a Browns fan, so he is very excited about taking snaps with the third-team offense against St. Louis.
“It will be exciting for me just to run out there wearing that uniform,” the former Cleveland St. Ignatius and Michigan State signalcaller said.
“It will definitely be real cool for the kid in me that used to watch games at the old stadium and (emulate) Bernie Kosar.”
Hoyer spent his first three NFL campaigns with New England before splitting the 2012 season between Arizona and Pittsburgh. At 27, he understands this is his best chance yet to carve out a permanent role in the league.
“I’ve always had the mindset that these are regular season games for me,” he said. “This being my fifth year, I know it’s work and it’s what we get paid to do.
“You have to take advantage of every play and try to execute to the best of your ability.”
Fans were not permitted to watch the Browns’ morning practice at their team headquarters as it occurred the day before a game.
• The next public training camp practice is Saturday from 4-6:30 p.m. in Berea.
The great one
Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown will be honored by the Browns when they host the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 3 in a nationally televised game on NFL Network.
Brown was re-hired as a special advisor to owner Jimmy Haslam III on May 29.
“We are absolutely thrilled to formally honor Jim Brown, the greatest running back in the history of the NFL,” Haslam said. “Jim is synonymous with the Cleveland Browns. He has an undeniable place in our history and we look forward to celebrating him appropriately on Oct. 3.”
Brown spent his entire career with the Browns — leading the NFL in rushing in eight of his nine seasons — and was a three-time league MVP.
The Browns are encouraging fans to arrive well before the 8 p.m. kickoff tonight because of traffic, construction, and weather.
In addition to the Indians’ game against the Tigers at Progressive Field, ticketholders will also be inconvenienced by the ongoing resurfacing project on East 9th Street.
• Though there is a chance of rain in the forecast, umbrellas are not permitted into the stadium, so fans should wear rain gear as a precaution.
• The NFL’s new security policy also goes into effect, banning all backpacks, seat cushions and containers larger than a fist-size clutch purse. Only clear bags that are smaller than 12 x 6 x 12 inches will be permitted.
Quote of the day
“My family understands this isn’t like coming down to Ignatius to watch me practice in high school. They want to enjoy it, but they understand this is my job now, and not just a hobby or something like that.” — Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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