Cornerback Sheldon Brown will also sit out with a concussion, ending his streak of 175 consecutive starts, the second-longest run among active cornerbacks. .
"It's killing him," linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "I know he wants to play."
Shurmur said he didn't have to radically alter his game plan for Lewis, whom he has known since they were both in St. Louis. Lewis is aware of the Steelers and their propensity to blitz.
"I think there's enough evidence of how they play," Shurmur said. "We have the first game against them, plus their style of defense hasn't changed in years. What's important for Thad is to execute the progressions and get the ball off on time and not rush things, just be urgent and go play his game."
Pittsburgh has never been a forgiving place for any quarterbacks, and especially ones from Cleveland.
In the 2008 season finale at Pittsburgh, injuries forced the Browns to start fourth-stringer Bruce Gradkowski, who passed for 18 yards, was sacked three times and posted a 1.0 rating in a 31-0 loss.
Last year, McCoy's season ended after he sustained a concussion in the fourth quarter when Harrison leveled him on a jarring tackle late in a loss at Heinz Field.
Lewis knows he has to be wary of Harrison and Polamalu, who both seem to be all over the field.
However, he's not worried about Harrison.
"You've got on a helmet and shoulder pads and if a guy is going to hit you or if you get hit, that's what the pads is for, to protect you," he said. "You've got to be tough at the quarterback position. You've got to get up, shake it off and move on to the next play."
As for Polamalu, Lewis said it's imperative to know where he's lined up.
"He's going to be the rule breaker," Lewis said. "You have to keep an eye on 43."
The Browns have lost eight straight games in Pittsburgh, and are just 5-23 against their biggest rival since 1999. But after beating the Steelers in November, the Browns can sweep them for the first time since 1988 and perhaps send Shurmur out on a high note in what is likely his final game for Cleveland.
"We can walk away from this season with something to brag about," Jackson said.
Notes: Weeden, McCoy and Richardson did not speak to the media this week. ... Cleveland's 82 combined starts by rookies are a league high. Indianapolis is second with 52. ... TE Jordan Cameron will also miss Sunday's game with a concussion.