NFL

Browns RB Hardesty injures thumb in practice

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BEREA, Ohio (AP)

The return of Browns running back Montario Hardesty didn't last very long.

Hardesty injured his right thumb in early in practice on Monday, another setback for the fourth-year back whose roster spot is in jeopardy.

Just a few plays into his first practice since July 31, Hardesty, who has been slowed by a hamstring injury, jumped to catch a direct snap from center during 11 on 11 drills. As he reached for the ball, Hardesty's hand bent back awkwardly. He grabbed his thumb and was quickly treated by trainers.

Hardesty's thumb was wrapped in a large bandage and he spent a few minutes watching practice before he was escorted to the locker room for treatment and presumably X-rays.

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski did not have a preliminary diagnosis on Hardesty, who did not play in last Thursday's exhibition opener against St. Louis and is fighting to make Cleveland's team.

''It's a tough deal,'' Chudzinski said. ''We'll see how the status is and how soon he'll be back.''

A second-round draft pick in 2010, Hardesty rushed for 271 yards and one touchdown in 12 games last season. He missed his entire rookie season after tearing a knee ligament in the preseason and had knee issues in college at Tennessee.

The arrival of versatile back Dion Lewis has hurt Hardesty's chances of hanging on with Cleveland, and any injury could make it even tougher for him. Lewis has moved ahead of Hardesty on the depth chart behind Trent Richardson, who said it was tough seeing Hardesty get hurt.

''To see this guy work hard every day and fight back to get back, we've got to keep his spirits high,'' Richardson said. ''We're praying for him and we're going to be behind him 100 percent and we want Montario to know that we're your boys and we're your brothers and we're not going to let you down.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Tagged: Browns, Montario Hardesty

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