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Lewis named starting quarterback

Posted Dec 28, 2012

Thaddeus Lewis has officially been named the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Right shoulder injuries forced Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur to officially rule out quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy following Friday’s practice and announced that Thaddeus Lewis will make his first career start against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday.

Lewis will be backed up by Josh Johnson. Lewis and Johnson were added to the active roster this week. Lewis was promoted from the practice squad and Johnson was signed as a free agent.

“He’s done great,” Shurmur said of Lewis. “He’s had a good week of practice. He’s been preparing himself to play all year, even though he wasn’t on the active roster. What we anticipate and expect is that he goes out and plays winning football.

“Thad’s going to go out and execute our plays. If Josh has to go in, I’m certain he’s going to execute the plays that we call for him. What’s important for Thad is to execute the progressions, get the ball off on time, not rush things, just be urgent and go play his game. I’m confident he’ll do that.”

Shurmur also ruled out tight end Jordan Cameron (head), defensive back Sheldon Brown (head/foot) and running back Trent Richardson (ankle) for Sunday’s game against the Steelers.

Montario Hardesty will start in Richardson’s place. On the season, Hardesty has rushed for 234 yards and one touchdown on 51 carries. His 4.6 yards per carry average is the best on the team of those players with at least 10 rushing attempts.

“He’s excited and I’ve been happy with Montario and what he’s done this year,” Shurmur said. “He doesn’t have the number of carries that he would have liked, but the ones he’s had have been meaningful and we’ll use him as the starter, and Brandon Jackson will spell him, much in the same way we used Trent and Montario. Chris Ogbonnaya will play. We’ll use all three backs and we’ll get in there and let them do their thing.”

Ruling Brown out for Sunday brings to an end the fifth-longest active streak for consecutive games played by a defender. Brown had played in 175 straight regular-season games, having never missed a contest since being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2002, and later traded to the Browns in 2010.

“It’s probably disappointing for him,” Shurmur said. “Unfortunately, he had a concussion and there’s protocol. It’s kind of out of our hands and he ran out of days to come back.”

With Brown out of the lineup, the Browns will rely more on second-year cornerback Buster Skrine and rookie defensive back Trevin Wade in the secondary. This year, Skrine has recorded 72 total tackles and a team-best 64 solo stops. He has broken up 11 passes and recovered one fumble. Wade has made eight tackles, six solo stops and broken up one pass.

Skrine has the second-most special teams tackles on the team, 11, and Wade has added five stops in punt and kick coverage.

“They’ve played quite a bit this year,” Shurmur said. “What I would expect them to do is go out there, play winning football and build on the reps that they’ve had so far.”