Rainer won't start

Middle linebacker Wali Rainer missed practice for a second straight day on Thursday, which means he won't start Sunday against Pittsburgh. Butch Davis, however, didn't rule Rainer out from coming off the bench.

With Rainer not starting, Brant Boyer will get the call. It will be Boyer's eighth start in 91 games spanning eight seasons.

Boyer has seen action against Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis. In fact, in a 1998 game a collision with "The Bus" resulted in two herniated discs for Boyer, who was with Jacksonville at the time.

"He (Bettis) is a heck of a player," Boyer said. "He runs real hard. He's a beast. Fortunately enough I haven't had any problems with my neck since."

NOT HAPPY: Kicker Phil Dawson was far from pleased with the playing surface at Soldier Field in Chicago. It's one of many fields Dawson says isn't up to NFL standards.

"You'd be shocked at some of the fields we play on. How horrible they are," Dawson said. "It's no wonder why we had so many ankle injuries (in Chicago)."

The Browns lost defensive end Keith McKenzie for the remainder of the season with a broken ankle against the Bears. Cornerback Corey Fuller and middle linebacker Wali Rainer both sprained an ankle in the game."

INJURY UPDATE: Fuller practiced Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's session. He said he will play against the Steelers.

McKenzie had surgery on Tuesday. He won't be able to begin working out for an estimated 16 weeks.

JUST MAYBE: If Boyer starts in place of Rainer, Boyer won't handle his duties on special teams. Those chores could go to linebacker Lenoy Jones, who has been on the physically unable to perform list because of offseason knee surgery. The Browns have three weeks to make a roster decision on Jones, who began practicing last week.

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