BEREA - There was a change in the offensive backfield Sunday, but it had nothing to do with Trent Richardson returning from recent knee surgery.
Montario Hardesty, who had been working with the first team in Richardson's absence, didn't participate in the session after going through individual drills. Instead, Brandon Jackson ran with the first team. Hardesty, who started each of the first three preseason games, fumbled away the ball in the last two games. He says he healthy, and he doesn't believe the switch to Jackson should be viewed as a demotion for him.
"I didn't practice today," Hardesty said. "No, not at all (is it a demotion)."
Hardesty prides himself on ball security. He vows to be better in that area in the future.
"We did some extra drills with (running backs) coach (Gary) Brown," Hardesty said. "We're going to move past that because it's not part of my M.O. to be a fumbler. I'm not going to let it bother me. I don't do it anymore."
STEPPING UP: Jackson could get a crack at starting when the Browns close out the preseason Thursday at home against the Chicago Bears. He injured a toe in the second preseason last season and was lost for the season.
Jackson didn't learn about working with the first team Sunday until he was on the practice field. He's not sure what to read into the move.
"I don't know yet," Jackson said. "I don't want to jump the gun. It feels good to be out there with the ones."
Coach Pat Shurmur said the coaches had a big meeting Saturday lining up the running backs. Fumbling won't be tolerated.
"Running backs that fumble, if you do that on a consistent basis, it's tough to put you in the game," Shurmur said. "I'll just say that. That's fair. That's one of those football things.
ALMOST BACK: Richardson should be back on the practice field soon. His return will be welcomed by Shurmur.
"There's synergy in the passing game," Shurmur said. "Being able to run the football is extremely important."
ROSTER CUTS: The Browns waived nine players Sunday, but they still need to make five more moves by 4 p.m. today to reach the limit of 75. The final cut Saturday will reduce the roster to the regular-season limit of 53.
Waived were offensive linemen Jake Anderson and Matt Cleveland; defensive back Emanuel Davis; linebacker JoJo Dickson; punter Spencer Lanning, and receivers Carlton Mitchell, Bert Reed, Jermaine Saffold and Owen Spencer.
INJURY REPORT: Defensive lineman Scott Paxson (knee), cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle) and linebacker Scott Fujita (knee) were on the practice field but unable to work out. Fujita had a brace on his left knee.
Safety Usama Young (hamstring) returned to practice after missing most of training camp and each of the three preseason games. Eric Hagg and T.J. Ward appear set to start at the safety spots.
Defensive end Marcus Benard dislocated an elbow.
"They fixed it," Shurmur said. "We'll just see how quickly he'll progress."
WORKING TOGETHER: Quarterback Brandon Weeden looked sharp in practice. One of his best throws was to rookie receiver Josh Gordon, who ran a deep post pattern. Gordon is improving each day.