- Associated Press - Thursday, October 13, 2011

BEREA, OHIO (AP) - As Marcus Benard recovers from a motorcycle accident he’s lucky to have survived, the Browns defensive end has one less thing to worry about.

The Browns have decided to pay the injured lineman for the remainder of this season, a gesture they didn’t have to make because he sustained a nonfootball-related injury. A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press the Browns will pay Benard roughly $370,000 he’s still due this season.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of privacy laws. Benard’s base salary this season is $525,000. The team placed him on the reserve nonfootball injury list, ending his season after four games.

On Monday, Benard broke his hand _ and sustained other undisclosed injuries _ when he smashed his three-wheel Can-Am Spyder into a guardrail on Interstate-71 shortly after leaving the team’s training facility following practice. Brooklyn Police estimated Benard, Cleveland’s sacks leader last season, was thrown an estimated 80 yards.

The impact of the crash tore the front off Benard’s vehicle, which has two front wheels and one rear wheel. A witness told police Benard was traveling at “a high rate of speed” before he lost control of the motorcycle, crossed four lanes of traffic and slammed into the guardrail.

Police said no other vehicles were involved in the crash and the investigation is closed.

Benard has been hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic since Monday, but coach Pat Shurmur expects the 26-year-old to be released at some point Thursday.

Shurmur was unaware Benard rode a motorcycle, and following the accident, he spoke to his players about the need to be mindful of their off-the-field conduct.

Benard isn’t the only Browns player who owns a motorcycle.

This week, several of Benard’s teammates said his accident caused them to reflect.

“It’s a real-life reminder that risky behavior can’t happen,” Shurmur said. “It’s like anything in life and you can call it whatever you want, it wasn’t a good event. It wasn’t something that you want to have but you sit back and say, ‘Wow, if it can happen to him it can happen to me.’ It makes you sit back and say, ‘Wow, can’t do that.’”

Benard played in all four of Cleveland’s games this season. An undrafted free agent, he spent the first nine games of his rookie season in 2009 on the practice squad before being signed to the active roster. He finished with 3 1/2 sacks in the Browns’ final six games. Last season, Benard led the team with 7 1/2 sacks and played in 15 games.

Earlier this week, Shurmur said he believes Benard has a future with the Browns.

“It’s so devastating for the young man,” defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. “He was just starting to get back from preseason injuries and setbacks. It’s a big disappointment. I’m very disappointed for him and for us.

“I’m thankful that he’s still with us.”

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