CLEVELAND — Bernie Kosar gave his legion of loyal fans another reason to love him Thursday night.
He gave his critics another reason to bash him.
After a week of taking shots from St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher and the national media — and being reprimanded by Browns CEO Joe Banner — Kosar addressed for the first time his harsh and sarcastic criticism of the Rams a week earlier in Cleveland’s preseason opener.
During the pregame of the WKYC-TV broadcast of the Browns-Lions matchup, Kosar discussed his week of publicity. He offered no apology and didn’t back down in a monologue that lasted less than a minute.
“The thing about football, it’s obviously a real physical game, on and off the field, as we’re finding out,” Kosar said. “And the beautiful thing about it is ultimately your performance and how you handle yourself on the field determines success or failure.
“You know, Jim (Donovan), I love the game so much and there’s no way I’d want to disrespect or hurt or make fun of any players or coaches. That being said, the way I look at the game and the way I like to analyze it from a football perspective, it is what it is.
“And again, I don’t want to disrespect or hurt any of the players or coaches in the league, but I do like the way I look at the game and I have strong feelings about the way the game’s played.”
Kosar is one of the most beloved players in Browns history. He played quarterback from 1985-93 and remains a fan favorite.
He ripped the St. Louis receivers and receivers coach during Cleveland’s opening win, but was most critical of third-string quarterback Kellen Clemens.
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” Kosar said. “I have to watch him the whole fourth quarter.”
Fisher said he lost “a lot of respect” for Kosar and got personal.
“Again, Bernie’s got his issues; they’re well-documented,” Fisher said.
The story gained steam and was featured on ESPN and radio shows across the country.
Banner said he didn’t consider removing Kosar from the booth he shares with play-by-play man Donovan, but released a statement that the team didn’t “condone the personal and unprofessional approach that Bernie took with some of his comments during the broadcast.”
Kosar called Fisher on Sunday to apologize.
That was more than he did Thursday night.
Right guard Jason Pinkston, who missed the last 10 games of 2012 with life-threatening blood clots, suffered a right ankle injury Thursday night that didn’t look good. He could barely put weight on it as he was helped off the field, sat on the bench with a towel over his head, then was quickly carted into the locker room. The team announced that he was taken in for evaluation.
Pinkston was in the starting lineup in place of Shawn Lauvao, who had ankle surgery last week and will miss the start of the regular season. Pinkston started the first 22 games of his career at left guard before the blood clots ended his 2012 season.
Rookie seventh-round pick Garrett Gilkey replaced Pinkston on Thursday night with the starters. Gilkey, who went to Division II Chadron State, has spent most of camp at left guard but appeared to hold his own against Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Coach Rob Chudzinski said last week after the Lauvao injury that veteran right tackle Oniel Cousins, backup center Jarrod Shaw and undrafted rookie Caylin Hauptmann were other candidates at guard. The Browns will also look at available free agents.
Punter T.J. Conley (groin) didn’t dress vs. the Lions, leaving all the work for Spencer Lanning. Chudzinski said Conley suffered a slight groin strain and he didn’t practice Wednesday. Conley and Lanning are in a tight battle to replace Reggie Hodges, who wasn’t re-signed.
Undrafted rookie Josh Aubrey of Stephen F. Austin started in place of T.J. Ward at strong safety. Aubrey has impressed coaches during training camp despite making the switch from cornerback in college. Chudzinski is being cautious with Ward, who has returned to practice after straining a hamstring. Ward warmed up before the game for the second straight week.
Chris Owens started at right cornerback ahead of Buster Skrine. Owens (foot) didn’t play vs. the Rams and was limited early in the week. He and Skrine are battling for the starting spot opposite Joe Haden.
Several other Browns didn’t dress as they continue to recover from injuries. Receivers Jordan Norwood (hamstring) and David Nelson (knee), cornerback Leon McFadden (groin), rookie safety Jamoris Slaughter (hamstring), Cousins (ankle), offensive lineman Ryan Miller (concussion), fullback Brock Bolen (calf) and defense lineman Hall Davis (hamstring) didn’t play.
Running back Montario Hardesty (knee) and offensive linemen Lauvao (ankle) and Chris Faulk (knee) are out after recent surgeries. The Browns announced that Hardesty had arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday at the Cleveland Clinic performed by Dr. Mark Schickendantz. The team said the surgery went as expected.
For the Lions, All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson (bruised knee) didn’t play. Safety Louis Delmas also sat out, and was replaced in the starting lineup by Don Carey. Carey was a sixth-round pick (No. 177) of the Browns in 2009, but never played for them. He was injured during training camp and then-coach Eric Mangini tried to get him through waivers, but he was claimed by the Jaguars.
Cleveland’s captains for the coin toss were Haden, defensive end Ahtyba Rubin, receiver Davone Bess and center Alex Mack.
• Former Browns quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is listed as the fourth quarterback for the Lions.
Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.