Browns Notes: Jack Conklin, Kareem Hunt set to return from IR and expected to play at Ravens


BEREA, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – With the stretch run upon them, the Browns find themselves getting healthy just in time.

Right tackle Jack Conklin and running back Kareem Hunt – both designated to return from injured reserve this week – appear on track to play Sunday night in Baltimore.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski said Friday both players will be activated from IR and be available against the Ravens.

“Both of those guys look good,” Stefanski said. “Kareem looked like his old self. Jack looked like his old self. Excited to get those guys back out there.”

Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt is looking forward to working with an offense at full strength.

“It just looks like it did when we started the season, which is a good thing,” offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said Friday morning. “We like our guys. We are finally getting healthy at the right time of the year.”

Hunt and Conklin must be activated from IR by 4 p.m. eastern Saturday for them to be able to play Sunday night against the division-leading Ravens.

“Excited to get back,” Conklin said. “Anytime you can get all of our starters back and get our guys going, that's a plus, you get guys back, it brings energy to the group, too, and confidence and stuff and I'm pumped to be back out there and ready to get rolling.”

Conklin suffered a dislocated left elbow against the Steelers but was able to avoid surgery which would’ve ended his season.

Conklin is wearing a brace which will allow him to play after missing the last three games.

“The way they make this stuff now, it's pretty comfortable,” Conklin said. “It's better than college having to wear two knee braces every game. It's not slowing me down. It's just there to help protect it. I think I could even play without it if I wanted to, but I want to keep it on, just to keep it safe."

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods expects to have nickel corner Troy Hill, who suffered a scary neck sprain at New England, available along with linebacker Sione Takitaki, who has been slowed by a shoulder injury.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield traded the bruised knee for a groin injury in addition to the bruised heel and left shoulder problems on the injury report this week.

“I think he is hopefully turning the corner on all of that stuff,” Van Pelt said.

Mayfield rested on Wednesday and Van Pelt liked what he saw on the field Thursday from his QB.

“The ball was flying off of his hands,” Van Pelt said. “He was very accurate. I do not know if we had an incompletion yesterday. It was a really solid day for what worked for him.”

Rarified air – The Browns haven’t thrown many touchdown passes this season – just 11 in 11 games – which is a bit of a surprise considering the firepower they came into the season with.

“We just have not [gotten the ball in the end zone]. That is true,” Van Pelt acknowledged. “I would like to sit here and say we have 25 touchdowns, and we do not have that throwing the ball yet. We do it run it when we get down in the red zone. That is one our strengths.

“Collectively, I have not sat back and examined why we have not thrown touchdown passes. We definitely do need to be more productive and explosive in the pass game.”

Cleveland’s offense has made 28 trips into the red zone, scoring touchdowns on 20 of them, to date. The other eight trips have resulted in field goals.

Keeping it tight – Ravens tight end Mark Andrews has 56 catches for the Ravens this season that have gone for 696 yards and four touchdowns. He is averaging 12.4 yards per reception.

“He can do it all,” Woods said. “Really just his ability to catch the ball. He is big. He can run. He is athletic. You can see it all over the field. When in doubt, he is going to get the ball. He is tough to defend, but I feel like we have guys who can match up against him just because of the size.”

Injury report – OUT: WR Anthony Schwartz (concussion); QUESTONABLE: WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin), CB Troy Hill (neck); ESPECTED TO PLAY: C J.C. Tretter (knee), DE Jadeveon Clowney (neck, wrist, knee), DT Malik Jackson (knee), WR Jarvis Landry (knee), LB Sione Takitaki (shoulder), QB Baker Mayfield (left shoulder, groin, foot), CB A.J.
Green (concussion), DT Malik McDowell, DE Takkarist McKinley (groin), LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (ankle), LB Tony Fields (illness)

Up next – Browns at Ravens Sunday, 8:20 p.m.