Quarterbacks Brandon Weeden (sprained right shoulder) and Colt McCoy (sprained right shoulder) and running back Trent Richardson (sprained ankle) didn’t practice all week and were ruled out for the Steelers game. They were injured in the second half Sunday in a 34-12 loss to the Broncos.
Lewis began the week on the practice squad and has never played in an NFL game. He has taken the majority of the first-team repetitions this week and will face the No. 1-ranked Steelers defense.
“Thad’s done great. He had a good week of practice,” Shurmur said. “He’s going to go out and execute our plays.”
Josh Johnson, who was signed off the street Wednesday, will be the backup.
Richardson set the team’s rookie rushing record with 950 yards but won’t reach the 1,000-yard milestone he had been aiming for.
Hardesty will make his first start of the season. He has 51 carries for 234 yards, a 4.6 average and a touchdown.
“I’ll be ready to play,” he said.
Brandon Jackson will serve as Hardesty’s backup and receive his first carries of the season. He missed all of 2011 with a toe injury and has never rushed for the Browns.
“It’s been tough,” Jackson said.
Cornerback Sheldon Brown and tight end Jordan Cameron also were ruled out as they recover from concussions.
Brown’s streak of 175 consecutive games will end. He was injured Sunday when Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley lowered his shoulder into Brown’s chest on a crossing route.
“It’s killing him,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said of Brown. “He wants to play.”