BEREA – Coach Rob Chudzinski has just about finished his plan for playing time for the preseason opener Thursday night against the St. Louis Rams at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“We are going to play our starters, for the most part, for about a quarter,” he said Tuesday. “That may vary from individual to individual. We will get our second group in there for the second quarter and third quarter. Some will be done at halftime and some will go forward in the third quarter. Fourth quarter we will get some of our third group in there.”
The uncertainty concerns injured players.
Running back Trent Richardson (shin) and strong safety T.J. Ward (hamstring) returned to practice in a limited capacity Monday but were held out of team drills Tuesday, so it seems unlikely they’ll play. Richardson spent his free time running sprints by himself.
Chudzinski said he wanted to talk to the medical staff before making final decisions or announcements.
“We are going to sit down with them, get more information and I’ll let you guys know (today),” Chudzinski said.
Richardson downplayed the sore shin last week and said his goal was to play in every game this season, including the preseason. But the shin that was kicked Thursday was the same one with a muscle strain that forced him to miss minicamp in June. So the Browns are being cautious.
“We will talk to all the players that are in that situation,” Chudzinski said. “Whether they play or don’t play, we will assess it and do the smart thing. We will communicate that with him.”
YOUNT ISN’T RESTLESS
When long snapper Christian Yount arrived in November 2011 to take the place of the beloved Ryan Pontbriand, he was an unknown stepping into a pair of large cleats. Pontbriand was a two-time Pro Bowler who suddenly lost the ability to snap.
Less than two years later, Yount is the senior member of the specialists and a core member of the team. The Browns proved that by signing him to a five-year contract Tuesday that runs through 2017.
“He’s proven he has been a valuable part of the team,” Chudzinski said. “You never know how valuable those guys are until you don’t have one that can get the snap back, and I’ve been there before. We’re happy to have Christian as a part of our organization for a long time and he’s earned it.”
Yount, 25, worked with kicker Phil Dawson and punter Reggie Hodges last year, but is breaking in new legs at both spots. He has a between-the-legs view of the kicker and punter battles.
“It’s just how the business goes,” Yount said. “It’s unfortunate to see guys leave, especially when we’re such a tight-knit group like that. But we’ve got new guys who are doing a great job.
“I’m really appreciative and blessed to be here. I’m excited to be a Brown for as long as they’re gonna have me.”
Yount (6-foot-1, 256 pounds) said he hasn’t had a snap sail over the head of the intended target or bounce into him in his time with the Browns.
“Hopefully keep that going,” he said. “I hope I can give the punters and kickers the best chance to succeed when they’re out there and I hope that’s what I’m doing every time for those guys.”
Yount was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Tampa Bay in 2011. He’s played in 28 career games with four tackles.
NO UPDATE ON LAUVAO
Chudzinski said right guard Shawn Lauvao was still being evaluated by the medical staff and he’d have an update today.
Lauvao, who has started every game the last two seasons, injured his ankle Monday in the last period of practice and was carted off the field.
Jason Pinkston replaced Lauvao at right guard with the first team. Pinkston was excused from practice early for a personal reason.
** Running back Montario Hardesty (hamstring tendon), receiver David Nelson (knee), tight end Brad Smelley (hamstring), offensive linemen Oniel Cousins (ankle), Ryan Miller (concussion) and Chris Faulk (knee) and fullback Brock Bolen (calf) didn’t practice.
** Undrafted rookie defensive end Dave Kruger sustained a concussion Monday and didn’t practice. He’s the younger brother of outside linebacker Paul.
TOO CLOSE TO CALL
More of the attention has gone to the kicker competition, but there’s also a good battle at punter between T.J. Conley and Spencer Lanning
“It’s been a good competition,” Chudzinski said. “Both of those guys are hitting the ball well. They are neck and neck right now.
“We’ll be alternating those guys back and forth (in games) so they get their kicks in. We will see where it goes from there, but this will be a big part of the evaluation.”
Receiver Travis Benjamin was first up to field punts, followed by fellow wideouts Davone Bess, Jordan Norwood, Mike Edwards and Josh Cooper.
** Defensive linemen went through a drill in which a large blocking pad was thrown at their feet and they had to push it out of the way (like they would a blocker) and continue upfield.
** Owner Jimmy Haslam watched practice.
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