Signs Point Toward Montario Hardesty Starting Against Bengals

The reward for Chris Ogbonnaya rushing for 100+ yards for the first time in his career this past Sunday? Giving the starting gig back to Montario Hardesty. "If Montario can go he’ll start," said Shurmur when asked what Hardesty's role would be if he was active for the game. He did add that we would still see Ogbonnaya in the game quite a bit.

When asked if Hardesty would participate in team drills Wednesday, he responded by saying, "He’ll practice today.  He’ll be out there." Sure enough, according to reports, Hardesty took part in team drills with the first-team offense. Unless he suffers a setback, I think it's safe to assume that he will see significant action against the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday.

One player the Browns might not have in the backfield is fullback Owen Marecic, who suffered a concussion against the Jaguars. "We have guys that will fill that position so we can call two-back type plays," said Shurmur when asked about who could replace Marecic. "We have a pretty good stable of tight ends that are used to playing in the backfield so that could be the case." Reports indicated that tight end Alex Smith took reps at fullback with the first-team offense on Wednesday.

Lastly, there was some news on running back Peyton Hillis. He participated in practice for the first time today since November 4, but only took part in individual drills, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

Hillis returned to practice today for the first time since he aggravated his injured hamstring during practice Nov. 4. Hillis was limited upon his return. He did some light work in at least one individual drill by shuffling sideways through bags. Hillis, who is pictured to the right, did not participate in team drills. As the open session ended, Hillis switched from walking to jogging as he moved to the next drill.

For more of Shurmur's Wednesday press conference, click here.

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