Browns have no explanation for Lewis' absence from practice

BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns running back Jamal Lewis wasn't at practice Wednesday, and the team had no immediate explanation for his absence.

Lewis, who last month said he intended to retire after this season, wasn't in the Browns' locker room during the session open to the media. There were no street clothes in Lewis' cubicle, and a Browns spokesman didn't give a reason for the running back not practicing.

The spokesman said if Lewis doesn't practice, his status would be addressed on the week's first injury report, which will be released after 4 p.m. ET.

Lewis has been bothered by assorted injuries all season, leading to speculation that the Browns might place him on injured reserve, which would bring an unceremonious end to a brilliant 10-year NFL career.

A punishing runner, Lewis has gained 10,607 career yards, ranking him 21st on the NFL's all-time rushing list. The 30-year-old was the league's offensive player of the year in 2003, when he rushed for 2,066 yards for the Baltimore Ravens.

This has been Lewis' worst season. He has rushed for 500 yards on 143 carries -- a 3.5 average -- and doesn't have a touchdown. He didn't start in last Sunday's game at Cincinnati and finished with 40 yards on 11 carries.

Earlier this season, Lewis criticized Browns coach Eric Mangini for working Cleveland's players too hard in practice, and the running back has questioned the team's lack of an offensive identity.

Lewis signed as a free agent with the Browns in 2007. He rushed for 1,304 yards that season -- the most by any Cleveland back other than Hall of Famer Jim Brown.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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