On the heels of a Thursday night game against the Buffalo Bills, the Cleveland Browns made several roster transactions, which we have summarized below:
As reports indicated Sunday morning, the Browns waived running back Montario Hardesty from injured reserve. He is medically cleared to return after having knee surgery, and releasing him allows him to sign on with another team. From my understanding, he cannot re-sign with the Browns, though.
The surprising move of the day involved the waiving of wide receiver Josh Cooper. I guess it's not too surprising, given he never saw the field this season, even when Josh Gordon was suspended. Brandon Weeden will have one less buddy hanging around, though, which has to make him feel even worse than he must already feel. There is a chance the Browns could still try to retain Cooper on the practice squad.
The new addition to the roster is running back Fozzy Whittaker, who was claimed off waivers from the San Diego Chargers. Whittaker went undrafted in 2012, and signed on to the Arizona Cardinals' practice squad at the end of the year. He spent all of this offseason and training camp with the Chargers, and made their 53-man roster to begin the season as a kick returner.
The Chargers waived Whittaker because they needed extra offensive line depth with a couple of guys injured. He had 6 kickoff returns this season for 156 yards, a 26.0 average. During the preseason, Whittaker was the Chargers' leading rusher with 39 carries for 155 yards (4.0 YPC) and 2 touchdowns. He had 4 catches for 44 yards during the preseason.
The signing would seem to indicate that the Browns want Whittaker to return kicks from here on out, which were roles previously held by Bobby Rainey and Greg Little. Little has 3 kickoff returns for 86 yards (28.7 average) the past two games, but with Cooper gone, the Browns may prefer saving his wear-and-tear for the receiver position. It's hard to say if Whittaker will get reps at running back; if that is the intent, it wouldn't be a good sign for Rainey's future.
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