This has been a long time coming for Browns running back Montario Hardesty. The second-year player (though you might as well still call him a rookie) was lost for the season during 2010′s preseason after tearing his ACL and has finally made his return to the field. With his injury history at Tennessee, there was a great deal of uncertainty about his future – not only with the Browns, but in the NFL.
It didn’t help that he sat out the first two weeks of practice with the team, further adding to the speculation that Hardesty was not fully recovered from his offseason surgery. Head coach Pat Shurmur assured everybody that it was simply a precautionary move to bring him back this way, slowly integrating him into action.
He has been in full pads during training camp, but has been relegated to individual drills on the sidelines. Monday marked the first time that Hardesty was able to practice in team drills in full pads. He practiced with the second-team offense and was able to put his mind at ease by getting hit on his first carry.
As of right now, Hardesty’s status for Friday’s game against the Detroit Lions is up in the air. It will depend on his practices during the course of the week, but if he holds up well, I imagine he’ll see some fourth quarter action.
Ultimately, we have to see how Hardesty performs during a game to see how well his surgically repaired knee holds up. While the signing of Brandon Jackson was a shrewd move to protect themselves against another Hardesty injury, the Browns obviously would love to go into the season with all three of their running backs – Peyton Hillis, Jackson, and Hardesty – healthy and ready to go.