For the second straight day, the Browns ended the season for one of their running backs.
Montario Hardesty was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a knee injury, the latest medical setback for the former third-round pick whose promising NFL career has been sabotaged by injuries.
The move with Hardesty came one day after the Browns put running back Dion Lewis on season-ending injured reserve with a surgically repaired left leg. The loss of Hardesty and Lewis hurts Cleveland’s depth and may force the Browns to sign a player before the Sept. 8 season opener.
Lewis was supposed to be the change-of-pace back behind starter Trent Richardson. Lewis had passed Hardesty on the depth chart during training camp, and now Cleveland will be without both players in 2013.
Also, the Browns released fullback Owen Marecic, a fourth-round pick in 2011, as they trimmed their roster to 75 by the league’s 4 p.m. deadline. Teams must have their active rosters to 53 players by 6 p.m. on Saturday.
In addition, the Browns were awarded linebacker Paul Hazel from Jacksonville and punter Colton Schmidt from San Francisco.
The Browns also waived linebacker Kendrick Adams, offensive lineman Dominic Alford, wide receiver Dominique Croom, defensive lineman Nicolas Jean-Baptiste, offensive lineman Ryan Miller and tight end Travis Tannahill.
Miller sustained a concussion during the first week of training camp. Miller was knocked out during a blocking drill, and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. He entered the league’s concussion protocol program before being cut.
Rookie offensive lineman Chris Faulk was also placed on the reserve/non-football injury list. He is also done for the year.
Hardesty was slowed by a hamstring injury during training camp and returned to practice a few weeks ago only to dislocate his right thumb while trying to catch a direct snap from center.
He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee on Aug. 15. Hardesty missed his rookie season in 2010 after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the final exhibition game.
He sat out part of 2011 with a calf injury, but was healthy last season and rushed for 271 yards and a touchdown in 12 games. Hardesty showed good explosiveness on several runs and the Browns were encouraged that he was able to stay healthy.
Now, his career could be in jeopardy since he’s going to miss another full season. If he does return, it could be with another team since he’s in the final year of his contract with Cleveland.
Marecic made six starts over two seasons for the Browns, who selected the former Stanford standout after acquiring the No. 124 overall pick in the draft-day trade with Atlanta. The Falcons sent the Browns five picks to move up and select wide receiver Julio Jones.
Marecic lost his job as Cleveland’s primary fullback this summer to Chris Ogbonnaya, who converted from tailback.
Mingo’s health improving
Browns rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo did some running Tuesday, a few steps forward in his recovery from a bruised lung.
Mingo believes he sustained the unusual injury in an exhibition game on Aug. 15 against Detroit. Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Mingo, who has been doing his conditioning by riding a stationary bike, was going to “run a little bit.” Mingo did not do any running during the portion of practice open to the media.
A team spokesman confirmed that the first-round draft did some running, but did not provide any specifics.
Mingo will not play in Thursday’s exhibition finale against Chicago and it’s not yet known if the No. 6 overall pick will play in the Sept. 8 season opener against Miami. Chudzinski reiterated that it’s still to be determined when Mingo will return.
“We have no timetable,” he said. “We will just have to see how he progresses and how he heals. It’s really just an individual thing, from individual to individual, on how they heal.”
Chudzinski said the Browns have ruled out placing Mingo on the short-term injured reserve list, which would sideline him for half the season.
The last time he spoke with reporters, Mingo said he was following doctor’s orders and would not rush back. The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder said he spit up some blood during the first half of the game against the Lions and later at the hospital. He was kept for two nights at The Cleveland Clinic.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said it’s possible the starters could play “10 to 12 reps” in Thursday’s preseason finale at Chicago. Chudzinski will reveal his plans on Wednesday. ... Chudzinski said Oneil Cousins has the “edge” over rookie Garrett Gilkey to start the season at right guard. Cousins got the chance to win the job after Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston sustained ankle injuries. ... Backup QB Jason Campbell sat out practice with an unspecified illness. WR Davone Bess sat out to rest his knee. He didn’t play last week because of tendinitis. ... TE Jordan Cameron did not participate in team drills as he recovers from a strained groin.