Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Russell may be lost for season
The Cleveland safety has had a recurrence of a skin staph infection.
BEREA (AP) Brian Russell's staph scare isn't over.
Cleveland's safety remained hospitalized Monday with an elbow injury, a likely recurrence of a skin staph infection that doctors believed they had removed from his arm during surgery more than three months ago.
Russell has been in the Cleveland Clinic since Thursday, when the Browns sent him home after he traveled with the team for a game in Pittsburgh. His right elbow had become swollen, raising concerns that staph was still present and team physicians didn't want to take any chances of the infection worsening.
Coach Romeo Crennel said the 28-year-old Russell, who had an operation on his elbow to clean out staph in late August, underwent another procedure after returning to Cleveland. Crennel said doctors were still awaiting results of cultures and couldn't confirm if Russell was suffering from staph.
Teammate says he out
While Crennel would only rule Russell out of this week's game at Baltimore, safety Sean Jones hinted his teammate could be finished for the season.
"He has been a great leader for us this year and I don't think we're going to get him back," Jones said. "But we've got to move on, keep him in our prayers and dedicate the rest of this season to him because I know he really wants to be out here with us."
Also, Browns defensive tackle Orpheus Roye will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. The club placed the 33-year-old Roye on injured reserve and signed Orien Harris, who was signed off Pittsburgh's practice squad.
Russell has been dealing with staph a bacteria that typically enters the body through scratches and scrapes since the preseason. He is one five Browns players known to have suffered from staph infections in the past three years.
Rise in staph infections
Several other NFL teams have had a rise in staph infections, and the league has been proactive in educating players about the importance of frequently washing their hands and properly dressing any cuts.
The Browns have posted signs throughout their facility advising players on how to avoid skin infections, particularly methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a highly virulent form of staph.
Cleveland's elevated number of cases prompted the Browns to ask the Cleveland Clinic to intervene to see what the club could do to combat the problem.
"I think our people here have done everything they can to make sure things like that don't happen," Crennel said. "People from the Cleveland Clinic have been out and they have investigated. We've passed every situation. We have done everything we can to try to protect the players."
Following an Aug. 26 exhibition game at Buffalo, Russell's elbow went from being tender to infected in a matter of hours. He had surgery to purge the infection and only missed the club's preseason finale.
Russell didn't miss any time during the regular season, making all 12 starts before Thursday. However, Russell's long surgical incision was reopened during a Nov. 19 game against the Steelers.
Went to wearing long sleeves
Since getting sick during the preseason, Russell had been wearing long sleeves to reduce his chances of getting cut or scratched.
In an interview with the Associated Press last month, Russell credited Cleveland's medical staff for recognizing his infection and getting him quick treatment.
Staph infections have become more prominent in recent years among athletes who share towels, whirlpools and common areas like locker rooms. Once inside the body, staph can cause blood and joint infections, and pneumonia. In rare cases it can be fatal.
Crennel said he spoke with Russell, who signed with the Browns as a free agent before last season.
"He's disappointed because he's going to miss this game," Crennel said. "He is in a good frame of mind and said he's willing to help any way he can because he knows we have young guys back there. Under the circumstances, he's doing pretty well."