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Cleveland Browns: Why Montario Hardesty’s Latest Injury Could Save His Career in Cleveland
By Sam Ingro
The preseason running back battle is over before it started for Cleveland Browns’ backup Montario Hardesty. It now appears that for at least the start of the season, the Browns’ backfield will consist of Trent Richardson, Dion Lewis and Brandon Jackson, with Chris Ogbonnaya rounding out the lineup at the fullback position.
Coming into camp, it was thought that this could be the breakout year for a finally healthy Hardesty. It did not last long though, as he was sidelined with a hamstring injury and dislocated thumb. Amazingly enough, neither of those injuries are what has put the Browns’ fourth-year back under the knife. Soreness in his knee has prevented him from being able to compete at a top level, and it appears he has now made the decision to have arthroscopic knee surgery before the season starts.
While an injury is never something anybody wants to see, this surgery could end up saving the career of Hardesty. It is no secret that the team here at Buckeye State Sports has had Hardesty on “bubble watch” to make the 53-man roster, but with this injury, it now gives him a second chance. The new coaching staff has essentially seen nothing out of Hardesty since they have been installed, all the while Lewis, Jackson and Miguel Maysonet have been turning heads on the field.
Instead, now the team should have the option of placing him on the PUP list, since he is physically unable to perform. A stipulation of this list keeps the player out of action for first six games. The team then has three weeks to allow the list participant to start practicing. Once he has begun to practice, the team then has another three week gap to decide if they will place him on the active roster. When that deadline expires, the player is resigned to the PUP list for the season.
What this means for Hardesty is that now he has time to let the running back position shake out. With the injury history of Richardson and Jackson, as well as the smaller stature of Lewis, it could leave the door open for a triumphant return of a healthy Hardesty after the bye week. If either backup does not perform up to their preseason promise thus far, the Browns could opt to take the returning Hardesty and vault him up the depth chart, as opposed to choosing the healthy backs as it currently stands today.
“That injury bug is something you can’t control,” said linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. “He’s just got to stay positive. Once he has his surgery, it’s just one day at a time, just look at how you can make the situation better. It starts with the attitude, attitude is everything. It’s going to help the healing process and it’s going to help him mentally get through it.”
With a surgeon cleaning up Hardesty’s damaged knee this week, it will allow him to reach that top level that has eluded him to this point in his career. He could come back healthier and more productive than he ever could have if he started the season without the surgery. For the Cleveland Browns and Hardesty, the ball is completely in his court. If his past determination is any indication of the outcome, it would not be wise to bet against the young 26-year old running back.
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