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Browns cut veteran Eddie Johnson

BEREA, Ohio -- It was a tough day for the Cleveland Browns Monday as they said goodbye to veteran linebacker Eddie Johnson.

Johnson was one of 13 players released as Cleveland got down to the league-mandated 47-man roster.

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'On behalf of my family, my wife and my three kids, I'd like to thank Art Modell and the Cleveland Browns organization for the beautiful experience,' said the 11-year veteran out of Louisville at a press conference following the announcement.

'Being part of this organization has allowed me to do things I would not have been able to do anywhere else. If I go on and play for someone else this year, I'll still be wearing the Cleveland Browns colors.'

The seven other veterans released included linebacker David Grayson, offensive linemen Gregg Rakoczy, Ben Jefferson and Kevin Robbins, defensive lineman Tom Gibson, running back Derrick Gainer and wide receiver Vernon Joines.

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The Browns also waived free agent safety Robert Lyons, who played with the Browns in 1989, running back Archie Herring, defensive linemen Greg Mark and Ernie Thornton and wide receiver Tyrone Shavers.

Johnson, known as ''The Assassin', started 59 of 60 games for the Browns between 1984-88 until he lost his starting spot at middle linebacker to Mike Johnson.

He led the Browns in tackles in 1984 with a career-high 172 tackles, was second with 148 in 1985 when he served as defensive co-captain and was third on the team in 1986 with 117.

'When the history of the Cleveland Browns is written, there has to be a special chapter for Eddie Johnson,' said Browns Owner Art Modell. 'I can't remember the last time a player came up to me after being released to thank me for giving him the opportunity.'

Grayson, out of Fresno State, joined the Browns as a replacement player during the 1987 players' strike, starting in 37 games in his five-year career.

Rakoczy, a 5-year pro out of Miami, recently ended a 28-day holdout by signing a two-year pact. He was a second round selection by the Browns in 1987 and was the starting center during the 1988 and 1989 seasons. Rakoczy was shifted to right guard the last year season and started the last 12 games taking over for Robbins, a free agent, who was added to the Cleveland roster as a developmental player in 1989.

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Jefferson joined the Browns as a member of the developmental squad in 1989 and worked his way into the starting lineup at left guard for the first four games of the 1990 season.

Gibson, in his third year out of Northern Arizona, joined Cleveland as a Plan B free agent from New England in 1989, and started the last three games of the 1990 season. He ended the year with 42 tackles and one sack.

In other moves, the Browns announced that veteran cornerback Mark Harper, who suffered an achilles tendon injury Friday during the preseason finale at Minnesota, was placed in the injured reserve list along with rookie cornerback Ray Irvin and rookie punter Brian Greenfield and will not be eligible to return this season.

Cleveland also placed safety Thane Gash, tight end John Talley and wide receiver Lawyer Tillman on the physically unable to perform list.

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