CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns have tried to play their way through injuries but after the bye they hope to come out of it a much healthier team for the stretch run.
Tight end Austin Hooper, who underwent an appendectomy on Oct. 23, is due back in time for the Texans Nov. 15.
Running back Nick Chubb and right guard Wyatt Teller could follow according to head coach Kevin Stefanski.
“I think Hooper will definitely be back for the next ball game,” Stefanski said. “With Wyatt and Nick, I think they are both progressing. They are hitting every landmark and milestone that they need to hit in terms of their rehab. We will just figure that out as these days go by.”
Chubb has been sidelined with a sprained MCL since going down Oct. 4 against the Cowboys and Teller suffered a calf strain the following week against the Colts.
Monday the Browns got great news on Myles Garrett’s knee that kept him out of most of Sunday’s 16-6 los to the Raiders. An MRI showed no significant structural damage meaning he’ll be able to rest and hopefully pick up where he left off the first half of the season.
Cornerback Greedy Williams, who has been sidelined since Aug. 24, is another story.
Although he’s recently posted some video of him working out on social media, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be back soon as he continues to rehab a shoulder injury that includes a problem with a nerve.
“I don’t have an update on Greedy,” Stefanski said. “Just going back to the last time we talked about him, he is working very, very hard.
We are just going to keep seeing if he progresses over the next few weeks. How that impacts the trade deadline, Andrew and his staff could probably answer that better than I could.”
Getting Defensive – The Browns defense has been their Achilles heel this season.
Getting off the field has been a major problem and it reared its ugly head again Sunday when they allowed five drives of 10 or more plays after seeing Las Vegas convert 8 of 14 on third down and both fourth down tries.
“I think it is like anything, it is all multi-faceted,” Stefanski said. “There are things that we can do better in technique. There are things that we can do better schematically. I think we can put the guys in some spots. It is never one thing, and I think that is what we are going to work real hard at to make sure that we have some tangible things moving forward that we feel we can improve in that area.”
Opponents are converting 48.5% on third down and 13 of 14 on fourth down this season.
Outside of Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward, impact plays at critical moments aren’t getting made consistently enough, and that is a problem.
Cleveland has forced 14 turnovers this season, but they weren’t able to come up with any Sunday, although they came close when Ward stripped Carr on an 18-yard run before the Raiders recovered.
“Sitting here at 5-3, we have to get better on all three phases,” Stefanski said. “Obviously, there are things defensively that I know we have to get better at. Like I said before, you have to double down on what you are good at. We have to get takeaways. We had our hands on one yesterday, the ball was in the air another time and the ball was on the ground another time, and we did not come up with it. We have to make sure that we are playing to our strengths, but that is definitely something that we will spend time looking at this week.”
Deadline Looms – The NFL’s trade deadline is quickly approaching, and Monday saw a flurry of trades made, none involving the Browns.
The Browns need help at every level of their defense – pass rush, linebacker, safety and corner – and there is no quick fix there but executive vice president of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry could also try to add another receiver to mitigate the loss of Odell Beckham Jr. for the season to a torn ACL.
“Those are conversations I am having with Andrew and his staff, and we constantly are talking,” Stefanski said. “I think they will work hard to see if anything makes sense for us, but I will leave that up to Andrew and leave that one in his court.”
Upon Further Review – Stefanski did not want to say too much about a pair of replay reviews that did not go the Browns way against the Raiders.
First, replay overturned a would-be 20-yard touchdown from Baker Mayfield to Jarvis Landry because the ball hit the ground when Landry went down. The second review upheld a 4-yard touchdown from Derek Carr to a sliding Hunter Renfrow to give Las Vegas a 13-6 lead.
“Honestly, when those things happen and it goes to New York, you wait for the result, you wait for them to come out and announce it, and it is the classic ‘it is what it is,’” Stefanski said. “I am never going to get into what could have-should have happened there.”