DETROIT — Receiver Mohamed Massaquoi said last week he had never been healthier to start a training camp in his four years with the Browns.
That lasted one offensive play into the preseason.
Massaquoi caught Brandon Weeden’s first professional pass for a 12-yard completion, but was hit high by safety Erik Coleman. Massaquoi was shaky getting up and went to the sideline.
He was checked by trainers on the bench, got up and walked to the sideline to watch the action. A member of the medical staff told him he must go to the locker room. Massaquoi argued, to no avail, and made the long walk to the locker room.
Coach Pat Shurmur called it a concussion in his postgame news conference.
“He came off with symptoms, so we follow protocol,” he said, still scarred from last year when quarterback Colt McCoy returned to the Pittsburgh game after suffering a concussion.
Massaquoi disputed the diagnosis on Twitter.
“No! Precautionary! Cant wait to get back to work!” he wrote.
Massaquoi, a second-round pick in 2009, has been dogged by concussions the last two seasons and was hoping they were a thing of the past. He first suffered one in 2010 on a brutal shot from Steelers linebacker James Harrison. He only missed one game, but president Mike Holmgren wondered this offseason if he had ever gotten over it.
Last season, Massaquoi missed two games and left two more early after suffering a concussion in the middle of the season. He finished the year with 31 catches for 384 yards — career lows — and two touchdowns.
Shurmur said this week Massaquoi has made the largest strides of any receiver.
“The guy who looks totally different to me this year from last year is Mo,” he said. “I think Mo’s done a fantastic job in camp. He came in healthy and had the right mindset.
“We’re playing him outside and inside and I see a very focused guy that wants to have a good year.”
Massaquoi was replaced with the first-team offense by rookie fourth-round pick Travis Benjamin.
In addition to his receiver duties, Benjamin returned punts and kickoffs. Veteran Joshua Cribbs will handle both during the season, but the coaches wanted to get a look at Benjamin.
The rookie returned two kickoffs for 55 yards. He fair caught one punt and two others were kicked out of bounds.
Benjamin’s speed was obvious on a 32-yard kickoff return in which he turned the corner and got to the sideline. He also beat the cornerback down the sideline for a 34-yard completion from Weeden. He finished with two catches for 46 yards.
“We will have to evaluate it tomorrow in total, but I thought some of the young guys showed up,” Shurmur said at halftime. “Travis Benjamin made some plays.”
The Browns were without seven projected starters when the game began.
Rookie running back Trent Richardson had arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday and is expected to miss the entire preseason. The Browns hope he can return for Week 1 of the regular season. He was replaced by Montario Hardesty.
The defensive line was missing three of its four starters, as tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor and end Frostee Rucker didn’t dress. Rubin returned to practice fully this week after a minor procedure in the offseason. Rucker has a leg injury but should be back soon. Taylor is expected to miss the first half of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.
Tight end Benjamin Watson, middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and weakside linebacker Chris Gocong also sat out. Gocong will miss the year with a torn Achilles tendon but hasn’t been placed on injured reserve yet. Watson has missed several days of practice, while Jackson’s first absence was Wednesday night. Neither injury is believed to be serious.
Backup safety Usama Young, defensive end Marcus Benard and fullback Eddie Williams also continued to sit out.
Rookie third-round pick John Hughes replaced Rubin in the lineup, while veteran Scott Paxson started for Taylor. Paxson left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. Emmanuel Stephens, who started three games in 2011 before tearing a pectoral muscle, replaced Rucker.
Benjamin Jacobs replaced Jackson, and Kaluka Maiava took Gocong’s spot.
Jordan Cameron, in his second season, started for Watson. Cameron left in the second quarter with a back injury after landing hard following a leaping 42-yard catch.
Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron will be stationed upstairs in the coaching booth this year. Last year, he called the game from the field.
• The trip was a homecoming for Shurmur. He grew up in Dearborn and attended Divine Child High School.
• Seven members of the Cleveland coaching staff have previously served as a head coach professionally or in college.
• The first mandatory roster cut is Aug. 27, when teams must trim from 90 to 75. The cut to the regular-season limit of 53 is Aug. 31.
• The Lions entered with a 24-18-1 preseason edge in the series. They lead 14-4 during the regular season.
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