The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot reported Tuesday that Hardesty's roster spot is in jeopardy if he can't stay healthy.
"Not having him (Hardesty), it does hurt his advancement and it hurts us as a team," Browns running backs coach John Settle said. " ... He's a young man that enjoys playing the game and wants to be out there. For us to be the best we can be, we need to have him out there."
Health has been hard to come by in the Browns' backfield. Hardesty has missed most of training camp with an inflamed hamstring tendon and is expected to miss the team's first preseason game Thursday against the St. Louis Rams.
The Browns have been ecstatic with Dion Lewis' potential to be the change-of-pace back behind Richardson, which would squeeze Hardesty down the depth chart. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner even went so far as to compare Lewis to one of the most prolific scat backs in the NFL.
"He's made a lot of plays and if you look out here it on the practice field, it looks like Darren (Sproles)," Turner said Tuesday, per ESPN Cleveland.
Injury concerns to Richardson mean the Browns will be more inclined to keep running back depth on the roster. However, with Chris Ogbonnaya's versatility to play both running back and fullback, Hardesty might be the odd man out if he isn't fully healthy when it comes to final cuts.