CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Browns running back Nick Chubb may be ahead of schedule rehabbing from a sprained MCL, but he won’t be ready to return until after the bye.
“We will not have him this week,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday. “We will have that bye week and really reassess. I know this, he is as you can imagine attacking this thing. He is working very, very hard.
“I know he is on schedule, and I would not be shocked if he was ahead of schedule.”
Chubb suffered the injury at Dallas Oct. 4 but avoided surgery.
The 2018 second round pick was averaging 5.9 yards per carry this season and had already rushed for 4 touchdowns. He also caught a fifth.
Injuries have been a problem for the Browns this year, but Chubb’s return will be a boost to a team now reeling from the loss of Odell Beckham Jr. for the season to a torn ACL Sunday in Cincinnati.
Right guard Wyatt Teller remains sidelined with a calf strain but could be back soon.
“I think throughout Wednesday and Thursday, we will have a better feel for where he is, but I am not ruling him out,” Stefanski said.
Fortunately, the Browns have been able to overcome them and are off to their best start to a season since 1994 at 5-2.
“We have high expectations for our guys, whether Nick is out or Wyatt Teller is out and now Odell is out,” Stefanski said. “We hate that part of it, but as an offense and as a team, we do not adjust our expectations. We want our offense to be able to move the ball down the field and score a bunch of points, and vice versa, we want our defense to throttle that opponent, regardless of who is out there. That is something important to the Cleveland Browns in terms of how we play.”
The Browns host the Las Vegas raiders this week and then the Houston Texans on Nov. 15.
Mr. Reliable – Rookie receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones received the ultimate compliment from Stefanski after catching the game-winning 24-yard touchdown with 11 seconds remaining.
“He is Mr. Reliable,” Stefanski said. “He can line up anywhere, a very intelligent player. To see him go make a play with the ball in the air was outstanding. There are going to be opportunities for him moving forward just like that.”
Peoples-Jones, who is trying to make his mark as a rookie, appreciated the love from his head coach.
“It feels good because that is something that I pride myself on being reliable, being there, being ready and taking on multiple position,” Peoples-Jones said. “It feels good. I feel like this game was a big game for us. For me to have a couple catches and it really meaning something, it just felt so good. Just being in the locker room with all those guys and them coming up to me after the game and saying how proud they were of me, it just felt good.”
His previous two grabs went for first downs, but the third to win the game was the biggest catch he’s made in a very long time.
“I had a winning catch in high school to go to the state championship, but nothing as big as this one on the end of a two-minute drive, a perfectly thrown ball and perfectly timed moment,” Peoples-Jones said.
LeBron James was watching Sunday’s game and tweeted, “WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! Helluva pass and catch! #Browns” right after.
“It felt good. He is my favorite player, my favorite basketball player of all time,” Peoples-Jones said. “I think he is the best of all time. That felt good that he was watching and supporting.”
Ready to Return – Receiver KhaDarel Hodge is expected to be designated to return from injured reserve this week according to Stefanski.
“I do anticipate KhaDarel Hodge coming back this week,” Stefanski said. “He is on schedule and he is progressing.”
The return of Hodge would give the Browns 5 receivers on the active roster plus the two they’re carrying on the practice squad following the loss of Odell Beckham Jr. It’s unclear if they’ll look to add additional depth at the position in the coming days.
“I think we will see how that all plays out,” Stefanski said. “I will tell you, I like the guys we have in that room. Andrew [Berry] and his staff, they look and they scour the league every Monday. They do, but we will work through that in the next few days.”
Hodge suffered a hamstring injury during warmups in Dallas.
Hope for Hooper – Tight end Austin Hooper continues to recover after undergoing an appendectomy on Friday but his status this week remains unknown.
“The truth is we do not know,” Stefanski said. “He is improving and feeling better, but that will be something that becomes more apparent later in the week.”
Hot Start – Stefanski’s 5-2 record in his first year as Browns coach is the best mark through the first 7 games for a first-year head coach in Cleveland since Blanton Collier started the 1963 season 6-1.
Practice Squad Move – The Browns signed offensive tackle Alex Taylor to the practice squad and released defensive end Jalen Jelks from the practice squad.
Injury Report – WR Odell Beckham Jr. to be placed on IR with a torn ACL. Surgery date TBD.