As the Cleveland Browns prepare to play out the string against the Pittsburgh Steelers, they are missing a number of important players on practice Thursday, many of them looking unlikely to play on Sunday. The most notable is probably cornerback Joe Haden, who reaggravated the hip pointer he suffered against the Chicago Bears in the game against the New York Jets.
Nose tackle Phil Taylor and left guard Jason Pinkston are both dealing with concussions, so they are going to miss the game. Tight end Jordan Cameron is still dealing with a concussion suffered against the Bears, so he may ultimately be cleared on Friday, but it remains to be seen if the Browns want to play him or just go ahead and let him continue recovering into the offseason. T.J. Ward is resting a shoulder injury and did not practice, but probably will play. John Hughes is battling a knee sprain, and right guard Shawn Lauvao is dealing with a thigh contusion. Andre Smith, a reserve tight end is also missing practice.
All of those players are either starting or playing heavily in the rotation with the exception of Smith, but with Cameron potentially out, he was able to get some reps along with MarQueis Gray. If Haden cannot go, Julian Posey and Leon McFadden will get more playing time. Garrett Gilkey saw time in a rotation with Pinkston at left guard, so that may become a full blown start for him. The Browns signed Brian Sanford, who could see time this week with Hughes possibly out.
It remains to be seen how much the Browns push these guys to play in light of the fact the team is 4-11 while the Steelers are still fighting for a playoff spot as a wildcard if they can win and get a lot of help.