Free safety Damarious Randall was a surprise scratch for the critical matchup against the Steelers on Sunday.
He didn’t make the trip to Pittsburgh on Saturday and was listed as out. It’s a coaching decision and not an injury, the team announced.
A team spokesman wouldn’t reveal the reason, but it’s likely a disciplinary measure.
During the portion of practice open to reporters on Friday, Randall watched as the starting defense went through drills.
The Browns were already dangerously thin at safety with Morgan Burnett (torn Achilles), Eric Murray (knee surgery) and Jermaine Whitehead (cut for threatening social media posts) unavailable.
Juston Burris will likely be joined in the starting lineup by rookie fourth-round pick Sheldrick Redwine, who would make his first NFL start.
Undrafted rookie J.T. Hassell is the only other healthy safety on the roster and was promoted from the practice squad Nov. 20. He played nine special teams snaps last week in his NFL debut but none on defense.
Veteran cornerbacks TJ Carrie and Terrance Mitchell could also be used at safety.
Randall, who’s in the final year of his rookie contract, has started all seven games he’s played with 34 tackles and four passes defensed. He missed two games with a concussion and two with a hamstring injury.
Randall was ejected from Cleveland’s 21-7 win over Pittsburgh on Nov. 14 for a helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked receiver Diontae Johnson from the game with a concussion and caused blood to drip from his ear.
Left tackle Greg Robinson (concussion) was downgraded from questionable to out. He entered the protocol Wednesday after reporting to team headquarters with symptoms.
Journeyman Justin McCray is expected to replace Robinson. He started in place of Robinson against the Patriots on Oct. 27, his first NFL start at left tackle.
Tight end David Njoku wasn’t activated from injured reserve and won’t face the Steelers.
He’ll miss his 10th game since breaking his right wrist against the Jets in Week 2. He reiterated Friday he feels great and is ready to go, but the Browns decided to stick with the tight end group of Demetrius Harris, Stephen Carlson, Pharaoh Brown and Ricky Seals-Jones.
Rookie linebacker Mack Wilson was fined $28,075 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Dolphins receiver Albert Wilson last week.
Dolphins safety Steven Parker was fined the same amount for a hit to the head of Browns tight end Demetrius Harris.