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Veteran RB Lewis cut by Browns, undecided about return after injury

BEREA, Ohio -- Jamal Lewis was released by the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday, but he hasn't given up hope of playing in the NFL.

The Browns let Lewis go with one year remaining on his contract. His 2009 season ended Dec. 2 when he went on injured reserve with post-concussion symptoms, but he doesn't want his career to stop that way.

First, doctors must clear Lewis to return to the field.

"If Jamal wants to play and he's cleared to play, I think he's got a lot of football he can bring to the table to help an organization," said Mitch Frankel, Lewis' agent. "He can be a significant contributor to the right organization. Jerome Bettis and some other guys at the end of their careers took on a different role, and I think Jamal can do that."

Lewis said after the Browns' season finale that he was still suffering from headaches and blurred vision as a result of the concussion, which he sustained during the opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Frankel said he wasn't sure if Lewis, 30, was still having the problems, and the running back didn't address them in a prepared statement, although he did thank Browns fans and owner Randy Lerner for his time in Cleveland.

"I plan to evaluate my future and have not made a final determination on whether I will be playing football next season," Lewis said.

Lewis tried playing through the symptoms for three months last season before finally being examined.

Lewis, who has 10,067 rushing yards during his 10-year NFL career, was one of the most outspoken veterans against first-year Browns coach Eric Mangini. Lewis was critical of Mangini's practice habits and believed the coach was working the players too hard.

"I enjoyed getting to know Jamal and having the opportunity to coach him last season," Mangini said in a statement released by the Browns on Wednesday. "We want to thank him for his contributions to the Cleveland Browns and wish him nothing but the best moving forward. I'm sure he will be successful in whatever he decides to pursue."

Halfway through last season, Lewis said he would retire. Now he wants to join a contender if his body will allow him.

"Jamal went to the Browns with the hope he'd be successful and go to the playoffs and beyond," Frankel said. "At this stage in his career, I think he would want to play for a team that has a chance to compete and get back to the Super Bowl, like he did in 2000 (as a rookie with the Baltimore Ravens). That's not to say Cleveland can't do that, but it would appear there are other teams out there that, as of today, look a lot stronger."

Lewis' release leaves Jerome Harrison as the Browns' apparent starter at running back. Harrison rushed for 862 yards last season, but he ended with a flurry. He rushed for 561 yards and five touchdowns over the final three games -- all wins -- as Cleveland closed the season with four consecutive wins.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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