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Reports: Hardesty to miss time with calf injury

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Posted Oct. 31, 2011 @ 3:28 p.m. ET
By PFW staff

Updated Oct. 31, 2011 @ 9:24 p.m. ET

Browns RB Montario Hardesty will miss the Week Nine game at Houston with a calf injury, head coach Pat Shurmur indicated Monday, according to multiple reports.

Hardesty, who left Sunday's loss at San Francisco with the injury, "will miss games," Shurmur said, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. The Browns will bring in running backs for tryouts on Tuesday, Shurmur said, per The Plain Dealer.

RB Peyton Hillis, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, is "day-to-day," Shurmur said, according to The (Willoughby, Ohio) News-Herald.

With Hardesty leaving the game early on Sunday, Chris Ogbonnaya was the Browns' only tailback. He rushed 11 times for 37 yards and caught five passes for 24 yards.

 

The way we see it

The Browns' RB corps has been drastically thinned by injuries. In addition to Hillis and Hardesty, ex-Packers RB Brandon Jackson landed on injured reserve with turf toe before playing a regular-season game for Cleveland.

If Hillis can't play, Ogbonnaya figures to start. Armond Smith, who began the season on the roster before being waived in favor of Ogbonnaya, could be promoted from the practice squad to add more depth, or perhaps a free agent will be signed.

 

PFW fantasy spin

Ogbonnaya (5-11 3/4, 220 pounds) has the size to be a between-the-tackles runner, and he has good hands, natural ball skills and is willing to block — great qualities that fit a West Coast offense. However, he runs high, at times doesn't protect the ball and has not proven anything long-term. Seen as a project coming into the league, he has bounced around with the Rams, Texans and now the Browns.

Hardesty may miss two games, and Hillis is day-to-day, presenting desperate owners with an opportunity for a one-week or short-term starting back. As we know, Ogbonnaya saw most of the carries in the 49ers game after Hardesty went down with a groin injury and had 3.4 yards per carry, which is on par with Hardesty's 3.3 yards per carry and Hillis' 3.5.

Ogbonnaya does have decent hands and when you combine his numbers — 19 utilizations for 61 yards — those are bye-week or injury fill-in numbers but similar to the production Hillis and Hardesty have given. Nothing great, but the West Coast offense always gives the opportunity for bonus points through the air. Ogbonnaya could see plenty of action if Hillis can't play in Week Nine.

You don't find starting running backs on the waiver wire, so it's a legitimate play to try to pick him up unless you're deep at the position. Realize he's only a short-term solution and there's a chance Hillis will play, but Hillis hasn't been playing well, averaging 19.8 utilizations for 71.8 offensive yards and 0.5 touchdowns. Ogbonnaya would make a bye-week or injury fill-in on most rosters and is a viable short-term pickup.

Monitor the updates on the Browns' running backs, but Ogbonnaya could make an interesting late-week free-agent pickup in larger leagues — if nothing else but to block another owner from getting him.

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