BEREA, Ohio — Back at practice for the first time, Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi is still not exactly certain how he got an injury that has kept him out of all contact drills.
Massaquoi finally put on a helmet, pads, and caught passes during a noncontact drill Sunday. It was his first football-related action since coming to camp with his left foot in a cast and clouded by mystery.
“It was a bone chip, but I’m not sure when or where it came from,” Massaquoi said, explaining for the first time the extent of the problem. “I didn’t know it until I got here.”
Getting back both Massaquoi and fellow receiver Carlton Mitchell, who missed two weeks with a finger injury, was good news for first-year coach Pat Shurmur. A large contingent of injured players once again did not practice, including Eric Steinbach, the starter at left guard out since Aug. 17 with a disc problem in his back.
“There’s nothing that’s been finally decided on his status,” Shurmur said. “When he’s back or not back, we’ll make it known.”
Massaquoi’s injury was never disclosed until he came off the field yesterday. He revealed that he got hurt during “Camp Colt,” a series of workouts hosted in Texas by Browns quarterback Colt McCoy. That was during the NFL lockout, which delayed the opening of all training camps.
“Long time, no see,” Massaquoi said, perfectly describing his camp this year that has consisted of hours riding exercise bikes, watching video, and studying the new offense installed by Shurmur.
“From a mental aspect, it helped in that I watched and learned,” Massaquoi said. “I love the offense. Now, I want to make up for lost time.”
Massaquoi is expected to be a key target for McCoy. In 15 games last season, he had 36 catches for 483 yards and two touchdowns. That was slightly less than his production as a rookie in 2009. After being picked by Cleveland in the second round out of Georgia, Massaquoi tied for the team lead with 34 catches, good for 624 yards and three TDs.
“It’s great to have Mo get in a few drills and get his feet under him,” McCoy said. “We’re going to slowly work him back in, and Carlton as well. It’s encouraging for us.”
Massaquoi said teammates never let him get too discouraged during his rehab. Mitchell said Massaquoi returned the favor, grilling him about offensive schemes as the duo went through boring exercises instead of playing.
“He would ask, ‘On this play, where do you go?’?” Mitchell said. “Mo is like my big brother. He helped a lot.”
Mitchell had four screws surgically placed into his finger after injuring it during drills.
“Missing anything at this level is tough,” said the second-year pro. “But you turn from player to coach, watch and try to learn everything.”
Massaquoi said he is sure his study work has him comfortable enough to step in and play when the medical staff gives him clearance to go full-out. He and McCoy worked on a number of pass routes during the unofficial workouts in Texas.
“I had a jump on learning the playbook,” Massaquoi said. “I know the offense very well, and I’m excited to play in it.”
Shurmur said he’s not sure how much McCoy and other starters will play in Cleveland’s final exhibition game on Thursday in Chicago against the Bears.
“We’re going to go into this game and try to win it, so we’ll see,” Shurmur said, adding that rookie Jason Pinkston and veteran John Greco will get plenty of work at Steinbach’s spot.
“In the next couple weeks, we’ll make the decision on who finally makes the roster and who plays at that left guard spot.”
NOTES: Eight players, none with NFL experience, were waived before practice: QB Troy Weatherhead; K Jeff Wolfert; WRs Johnathan Haggerty and Juan Nunez; DL Kyle Anderson and Jabari Fletcher and DBs Darian Hagan and Brett Johnson. ... Shurmur said he’s not certain about depth at running back behind Payton Hillis. He’s encouraged by the progress of Montario Hardesty from knee surgery and rookie Owen Marecic.
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