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Published: Tuesday, 11/8/2011

Browns can’t shake funk

Players hurting and embarrassed after Texans rout

BY MARY KAY CABOT
(CLEVELAND) PLAIN DEALER
A dejected Colt McCoy tries to collect his thoughts after another unsuccessful series on Sunday. A dejected Colt McCoy tries to collect his thoughts after another unsuccessful series on Sunday.
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BEREA, Ohio — Clouds hung over the Browns facility on Monday, and they didn’t disperse any with the news that Peyton Hillis was ruled out for the Rams game Sunday with his pulled hamstring and fellow running back Montario Hardesty will most likely miss the second straight week with his torn calf muscle.

Instead of help being on the way for this beleaguered team — one that’s lost four out of the last five — help seems to be going away.

Receiver Mohamed Massaquoi was sent home Monday because he’s still feeling concussion symptoms, and safety T.J. Ward was having his right foot evaluated, the one in which he heard something pop in the arch during the 30-12 loss to the Texans. He had an MRI on Monday, but results were not made available.

So instead of an upbeat bunch of guys talking about how they plan to beat the 1-7 Rams on Sunday, the locker room was mostly empty and coach Pat Shurmur was a little short in his press conference. How many times can he say that the Browns are a young team that’s trying to get better and overcome key injuries — including those to its top three running backs?

“I guess what you take from having worked through tough situations is you keep battling, and that’s the message,” he said. “I’m sure you’re all getting tired of hearing me saying that, but that’s the reality of it. It’s like the diet that doesn’t sell: Eat less and exercise more. Football, you keep working.”

In the locker room, which contained far more media than players, Hillis stood for a few minutes at his locker, chatting with a team spokesman. Reporters hovered around, hoping to talk about his re-injured hamstring and the captains group meeting with him on Wednesday to help him get re-focused on the season. Instead, he walked out without talking, the team spokesman saying he was off to the trainer’s room.

Several lockers down, quarterback Colt McCoy — who was sacked four times and flattened eight others — sauntered into the locker room with the gait of a man three times his age. Both knees were wrapped, which was a first for any of the observers on hand. McCoy confirmed in a few words that this was not an everyday occurrence. When he bent down twice to pick something up off the floor, he looked like an old man whose bursitis was flaring up. Of course, getting crushed five times by rookie linebacker Brooks Reed alone will do that to a body.

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