Browns GM Heckert believes Hardesty will make full recovery

CLEVELAND -- The Browns understood that drafting Montario Hardesty was risky. Now they know how risky.

Browns general manager Tom Heckert said the team was comfortable with its medical reports and evaluations of Hardesty, who tore his left anterior cruciate ligament during Cleveland's preseason finale Thursday and is out for the season.

Making his pro debut after missing training camp with a bone bruise in his right knee, Hardesty tore his ACL while making a cut on a routine 2-yard run. Hardesty tore his right ACL in 2005 and needed surgery during his freshman season at Tennessee.

Hardesty slid into the second round -- the Browns traded three picks to select him at No. 59 overall -- partly because of his knee issues.

Heckert said the club was confident in its pre-draft medical evaluations of Hardesty, who gained 25 yards on seven carries with a touchdown before he was hurt.

"We spent a lot of time with our doctors and felt comfortable (drafting him)," Heckert said on a teleconference Sunday. "It's a blow."

Heckert said doctors believe Hardesty will make a full recovery after he has surgery, which hasn't yet been scheduled.

"We're comfortable he's going to come back and be fine," Heckert said.

Heckert wouldn't comment on whether Hardesty underwent microfracture surgery on his knee in 2006.

"I don't want to get into that," Heckert said, when the subject was raised. "I'm not real sure. I can't answer that."

Heckert said he had no regrets about Hardesty playing in Cleveland's last preseason game. He talked it over with coach Eric Mangini and president Mike Holmgren, and all believed it was time to see Hardesty play after he was cleared by the team's medical staff.

"Montario was on board as well," Heckert said. "It was just one of those things that happens."

With Hardesty, projected as Cleveland's starter, out for the season, the Browns' running back position likely will be a committee of Jerome Harrison, Peyton Hillis and James Davis, whose roster spot appeared uncertain before Hardesty was hurt.

Heckert praised both Davis and Hillis, who was acquired in the March trade that sent quarterback Brady Quinn to the Denver Broncos.

One day after finalizing his first 53-man roster since taking over in Cleveland, Heckert had other observations and comments:

»He expects nose tackle Shaun Rogers to practice this week in advance of the Sept. 4 season opener at Tampa Bay. Rogers, a three-time Pro Bowl pick and Cleveland's best defensive player, missed all of training camp and the four preseason games while recovering from a leg injury.

»Heckert said linebacker D'Qwell Jackson might be ahead of schedule as he recovers from a strained chest muscle. Jackson injured his pectoral muscle during camp. It's the opposite muscle from the one he tore last season. Jackson is one of 12 linebackers currently on Cleveland's roster.

»The Browns will continue to scan the waiver wire. Heckert said the team is looking to add a cornerback or safety, but he doesn't feel the needs to upgrade at wide receiver.

»Heckert said the final roster decisions with Cleveland's rookie management team of he, Mangini and Holmgren went "very, very smoothly. It wasn't like, 'I want this guy and I want this guy.' You talk it out and decide what is best for the football team."

»He hopes to sign safety Larry Asante, waived Saturday, to the practice squad if he clears waivers.

»Heckert wouldn't make any predictions about this season, other than to say he believes the Browns will compete. "We think we've improved. We think we're good enough that we will compete in every game," he said. "After that, we'll have to wait and see how things go."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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