Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis found himself in a unique position Wednesday – taking reps with the first team offense.
With both Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy unable to practice due to shoulder injuries sustained during the second half of the Browns’ 34-12 loss at Denver, Lewis is in line to start the season finale Sunday at Pittsburgh.
“If I get the start it will be wonderful,” Lewis said. “It will be like living out a childhood dream. Right now, I’m just taking it all in and enjoying it while I can in practice taking the reps. If my number does get called, it will be amazing.”
Lewis’ reps at practice were a first for him this season. He’s spent the bulk of the year on the practice squad running the scout team and was just moved back to the active roster on Monday.
“To be on the practice squad and take reps with the 1s is a good thing,” Lewis said. “Sometimes your number gets called. Mine was called this time. Hopefully I do get the opportunity, but until then I’ll do whatever the coaches ask me to do. Right now, my job is to take reps with the 1s. Last week it was do he needed me to do. So it’s just doing whatever the team needs me to do right now.”
Knowing Pat Shurmur’s offense isn’t a problem for Lewis, who also worked under him in St. Louis.
“I know the whole system,” Lewis said. “I don’t think there’s any limitation to it. It’s different knowing it and repping it. Today I knew what I was doing and got to rep it so it was pretty good.”
The New Guy: The Browns signed quarterback Josh Johnson Wednesday. Johnson was sitting at home when he got the call Monday. It made for a nice Christmas surprise.
“I was excited,” Johnson said. “I’ve been out of football this whole year so I’ve itching to get back. I’m very grateful to have this opportunity.”
Johnson was taken in the 5th round by Tampa Bay in 2008 and spent 4 seasons with the Buccaneers. He signed with San Francisco this past offseason and was released by the 49ers on Aug. 31.
Depending on who is available Sunday, there’s an outside shot Johnson could see the field Sunday as the back up to Lewis.
“This is not my first rodeo,” Johnson said. So, you know, I know how to prepare for a game. I’ve been in locker rooms, I’ve been in meetings, so all that’s not foreign to me. It’s just about getting caught up to speed as quickly as possible.”
In 4 years with the Bucs he played in 26 games with 5 starts. He completed 96 of 177 passes for 1,042 yards with 5 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. 4 of Johnson’s 5 starts came during the 2009 season. He also has rushed for 254 yards on 37 attempts in his NFL career.
“When you have the opportunity to be singed off the street, you’re gonna jump right at [it],” Johnson said. “But if the coach asks or I get in a situation where I’m called upon and put in there, I’m gonna do my best to prepare this week like I’ve been around and get up to speed on everything and try to go in there and execute the offense. That’s the plan.”
Filling Shoes: Running back Montario Hardesty has been limited this season – but not because of injury. His role was immediately reduced the moment that the Browns traded up to No. 3 in April to select Trent Richardson.
Hardesty has run for 231 yards on 51 carries this season – a 4.6 yards per carry average – and he’s ready to carry the load Sunday in Pittsburgh if needed.
“I’m just excited to be getting the opportunity to go out there and play ball,” Hardesty said. “If that means I get more carries, then I’ll welcome that with open arms. I just want to help our team win. I’ll be out there as much as I’m asked upon to be out there. I’ll be out there and ready to go.”
Injury Report: Did Not Practice – CB Sheldon Brown (head/foot), TE Jordan Cameron (head), QBs Brandon Weeden (shoulder) and Colt McCoy (shoulder) and RB Trent Richardson (ankle).
Limited Participation – KR Josh Cribbs (knee), S Tashaun Gipson (foot), DT Ishmaa’ily Kitchen (calf), DL Juqua Parker (knee), DE Frostee Rucker (shoulder/hamstring) and LT Joe Thomas (back).
Full Participation – OL John Greco (thumb), DT John Hughes (back) and TE Alex Smith (illness).