Browns place 17-year veteran DT Washington on IR

In a move that could well end the career of one of the NFL's best interior run defenders of this era, the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday placed 17-year veteran tackle Ted Washington on injured reserve with what the team said was a persistent knee problem.

"Ted has been working through some knee issues that finally have caught up to him," coach Romeo Crennel told the team's Web site. "We appreciate his effort to this point and know he will continue to help us in any way that he can moving forward."

Washington, 39, played in five games this season and registered nine tackles. Ethan Kelley has started the past two games in which Cleveland has opened in its base 3-4 front and is expected to assume that role for the rest of the season.

Although he was never the kind of player whose statistics reflected his full value to a team, Washington has nonetheless registered impressive numbers during a career that included four appearances in the Pro Bowl. The former University of Louisville star has 1,043 career tackles, 34 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, two recoveries and 26 passes defensed.

In one three-year stretch with the Buffalo Bills, 1996-98, Washington averaged 118.3 tackles, a remarkable number for an NFL defensive tackle.

Washington's strength has always been playing the two-gap technique, commanding double-team blocking from opponents and anchoring against the run so that others could flow to the ball.

He began his career as a first-round pick of San Francisco in 1991 and had stints with the 49ers (1991-93), Denver Broncos (1994), Buffalo (1995-2000), Chicago Bears (2001-02), New England Patriots (2003) and Oakland Raiders (2004-05) before signing with the Browns as an unrestricted free agent in 2006.

Washington started all 16 games last season and had 61 tackles.

To replace Washington on the roster, the Browns claimed fourth-year cornerback Ricardo Colclough on waivers from Pittsburgh. A former second-round draft choice, Colclough was released by the Steelers on Tuesday afternoon.

Colclough, 25, was the 38th player chosen overall in 2004 and the fifth-highest cornerback. The Steelers rewarded the former Tusculum College star with a four-year, $3.19 million contract that included a signing bonus of $1.517 million.

The Steelers chose Colclough in 2004, despite his small-school background, because he exhibited great natural talent as a coverage defender. Blessed with size and speed, he posted 15 interceptions and 38 passes defensed in only two seasons at Tusculum and also scored four touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns.

At the NFL combine and in private workouts for scouts around the league, Colclough turned in impressive numbers and rose up league draft boards. But Colclough could never transfer his college success to the NFL level. He struggled at cornerback and on special teams, made errors both mental and physical and slid down the depth chart.

In 2006, he suffered a neck injury that limited him to three games and he appeared in only three contests this season.

For his career, Colclough has played in 36 games and has 33 tackles, one interception, five passes defensed and 2 sacks. In three games this year, he had three special teams tackles. His career resume also includes 49 kickoff returns for a 21.7-yard average and an average of 3.8 yards on five kickoff returns.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.