Browns Notes: Kareem Hunt won’t return this week, Nick Chubb’s status unknown


BEREA, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns know for certain they won’t be getting one of their top running backs back this week but the other remains unknown.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski revealed that Kareem Hunt will not be back this week while Nick Chubb remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

“Not this week, but he is progressing,” Stefanski said.

“Kareem will not play Sunday.”

Hunt, who is on injured reserve with a calf injury, ran sprints and did a few other exercises outside before practice on Wednesday. It stands to reason Hunt would likely return after the bye December 12.

There is a chance that Chubb, who was unable to play in Sunday’s 45-7 loss to the Patriots, could still return this week.

“Nothing new [to report],” Stefanski said. “Just day to day. We will let the protocols play themselves out.”

Despite missing three games this season, Chubb still ranks third in the NFL with 721 rushing yards, and he is averaging 6.0 yards per carry this season. His six touchdowns scored is tops on the team to date in 2021.

If Chubb s unavailable, D’Ernest Johnson would be called upon to start in his place for the third time this season. Johnson has 294 yards and a pair of touchdowns while averaging over five yards per carry this season.

Help available – While the run remains the central focus and bedrock of Stefanski’s offense, he has help in the passing game, if he uses it.

Baker Mayfield has had strong connections with both Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins over the years but neither receiver has been given much of an opportunity to make an impact this season.

“We'll find ways to get Jarvis involved back in the gameplan, there's no doubt about that,” Mayfield said. “He's a tempo-setter for us, he's an extremely good leader and locker room guy for us, everybody knows that. When it comes to Higgy, just going through my reads and putting the ball in a position where he can catch it and make plays when it's necessary, but not trying to force it and overdo it. Like I said, we'll find ways to get the ball in 80's hands and get going again.”

Landry has been hindered by knee injuries, including a sprained MCL that sidelined him for four weeks, but he is second on the team with 23 catches and third in receiving yardage with 219 yards. He’s yet to catch a touchdown.

Higgins has just 14 catches for 168 yards and a touchdown. Despite Higgins seeming to make plays when needed, his opportunities have been few and far between as well.

“Rashard is doing a great job. He is doing everything we are asking of him,” Stefanski said. “We may call on him more, as guys are unavailable. We are just focusing on making sure we are efficient in everything we do – run and pass. We want all of our pass catchers to touch the ball.”

No finger pointing – In the wake of comments made by defensive end Myles Garrett and safety John Johnson III following Sunday’s game about a lack of adjustments and the Patriots exploiting plays that the defense had been beat on this season, it’s easy to conclude the train might be coming off the tracks on the 2021 season.

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods has come under fire regularly this season for the inconsistent play of his unit and it would be easy to point fingers as to why problems keep popping up but defensive tackle Malik Jackson doesn’t see that happening within the locker room.

“The first thing is that we are a team and a brotherhood first,” Jackson said. “I think we’ve gotten to the point where there will be no finger pointing. We understand that everybody’s out here working their butts off and we’re trying our hardest. It’s just not falling our way.

“I think finger pointing is the opposite thing. We have a team that’s very close knit. We talk. We communicate.”

“It’s not panic time. We’re 5-5, 7 games left, and we have a great opportunity to go out here and really make a run. We just really need to get our train back on the tracks, be consistent and be accountable.”

Welcome back – Browns run game coordinator/running backs coach Stump Mitchell has returned to the team following a leave of absence to deal with a medical issue related to a previous knee surgery.

Mitchell was back on the practice field watching over his players with the assistance of a walker Wednesday afternoon.

Playoff picture – If the playoffs were to begin today the Browns would not be in the field.

The AFC playoff standings entering Week 11 look like this: 1. Tennessee (8-2), 2. Buffalo (6-3), 3. Baltimore (6-3), 4. Kansas City (5-4), 5. Pittsburgh (5-3-1), 6. New England (6-4), 7. Los Angeles Chargers (5-4).

In the Hunt: 8. Cincinnati (5-4), 9. Las Vegas (5-4), 10. Indianapolis (5-5), 11. Cleveland (5-5), 12.
Denver (5-5).

Injury report – DNP: DE Myles Garrett (not injury related/personal), CB A.J. Green (concussion), CB Troy Hill (neck), DT Malik Jackson (knee), WR Jarvis Landry (knee), QB Baker Mayfield (left shoulder, foot, knee), WR Anthony Schwartz (concussion); LIMITED: DE Jadeveon Clowney (wrist, ankle, knee), DE Takkarist McKinley (groin), WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin), C J.C. Tretter (knee); FULL: OT Blake Hance (thumb)

Up next – Practice Thursday.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Matt Starkey-Cleveland Browns