Injuries, not circumstances, allow backups to play

Posted by Vic Carucci on December 28, 2012 – 12:43 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

Wayne – Both the Browns and Steelers have had a rough year, so start all of the second-teamers. Let ’em all play!

As it stands, Wayne, the Browns are likely to have their third-string quarterback, Thaddeus Lewis, starting. But that’s only because Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy have shoulder injuries.

Montario Hardesty is likely to start at running back, but that’s only because Trent Richardson has an injured ankle.

Injuries at other spots will, in fact, force the Browns to play several backups.

But the fact both clubs are out of the postseason is not – and should not be – the primary reason that some starters won’t see action. It’s particularly important for the Browns’ hierarchy to see how the key young players who have been in the lineup for all, or most, of the season and who could be factors for the team’s long-term future perform in the final game of the year.

What will their effort be like? How focused will they be? Is it truly important to them to convince the new owner, Jimmy Haslam, and the new CEO, Joe Banner, that they want to be a part of the roster in 2013 and beyond?

All of those evaluations will be made, and a regular-season game, with no playoff ramifications on the line, is the ideal setting to provide a true sense of a player’s professionalism.

Coleman – I’m happy that the two best Browns, Phil Dawson and Joe Thomas, made the Pro Bowl.

I’m happy for both players, as well, Coleman.

I’m especially pleased that Dawson made it for the first time in his 14-year career. As he told me on Thursday, he is the “Susan Lucci of NFL placekickers,” finally getting an honor (in his case a Pro Bowl, in her case an Emmy) that was long overdue.

And you wouldn’t get many arguments that Dawson and Thomas are, in fact, the two best players on the Browns. I think there is a good deal of talent among their younger teammates, and that we will be seeing Pro Bowl appearances in the not-too-distant future for the likes of Trent Richardson and Josh Gordon.

For now, though, Dawson and Thomas represent the Browns’ fixtures – a pair of highly talented, consistent, and most of all, dependable players.

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