RB in a pinch: Cleveland signs McGahee

CLEVELAND – The Browns have found a short-term replacement for running back Trent Richardson

Willis McGahee, who spent parts of nine seasons in the NFL with the Bills, Ravens and Broncos, passed a physical and was signed to a contract Thursday. McGahee ended last season on injured reserve with the Broncos and was waived in June.

McGahee will compete with Bobby Rainey and Chris Ogbonnaya for time once he’s ready to play.

The Browns needed a running back after Richardson was traded to the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday in exchange for the Colts’ first-round pick in the 2014 draft.

McGahee has rushed for 8,097 yards and 63 touchdowns since joining the Bills as the 23rd overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft. His first-round selection was a surprise because of the devastating knee injury he suffered while playing for Miami (Fla.) against Ohio State in the 2002 national championship game.

McGahee has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season four times, most recently in 2011 in Denver. Last season he had 731 yards in 10 games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

“He’s a big guy that can pass pro (protect),” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “He’s a complete back. He’s done it a long time in this league.”

FURTHER PROOF: Phil Taylor’s contention that Ravens running back Ray Rice spit in his face last Sunday was backed up by Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

Taylor became incensed after Rice was dropped for a loss on the second play from scrimmage. The two went nose-to-nose for a few seconds before Taylor punched Rice in the facemask, resulting in a 15-yard penalty.

Taylor would only tell reporters afterward to look at the film. The replay showed Rice tilting his head back in the manner someone would when preparing to spit.

“That’s probably one of the most degrading things you can do to a man,” Horton said. “You can get hit in the head, the knees and all of these things, but there are certain things that cross the line. Phil has learned from it, and he’ll move on.”

NOT TOO BAD: Quarterback Brandon Weeden’s visit to a Cleveland Clinic hand specialist revealed no major damage to his sprained right thumb. According to “ESPN’s” Adam Schefter, Weeden could be available to play next week.

TAKING PRECAUTION: Defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin is close to returning from an injured calf. Before he suits up on Sunday, however, he wants to be sure he’s 100-percent healthy. Rubin made the mistake of returning too soon from a similar injury last season, and it cost him more time on the inactive list.

“It was the same kind of injury this year, but this year I’m taking the right steps so it won’t happen again,” Rubin said. “Just taking it easy so when I step back on the field I’ll hopefully be 100 percent to go.”

INJURY REPORT: There were no changes for the Browns. Guard Shawn Lauvao (ankle) and Rubin were limited. Safety T.J. Ward (shoulder), defensive end Desmond Bryant (wrist) and receiver Josh Cooper (shin) were full participants.