Browns notes: Jack Conklin lost for season, 2 players put on COVID lists


CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Browns right tackle Jack Conklin has been lost for the season.

Conklin suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in the first quarter of Sunday night’s 16-10 loss to the Ravens in Baltimore.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed the injury Monday afternoon.

“He is out for the season, which you are sick about,” Stefanski said. “Obviously, Jack is a big part of what we do. He is a good man and good teammate so I feel for Jack.”

Conklin will undergo surgery, but Stefanski was unable to provide a timetable for Conklin’s return heading into the 2022 season.

Conklin had just been activated off injured reserve after missing three games due to a dislocated left elbow suffered in a 15-10 loss to the Steelers October 31.

“It is tough,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “I know he battled back from his elbow [injury] to try and get out there for the team and compete for the team. He is a selfless guy. He went out there, and it is an unfortunate injury. It is a serious injury. It is unfortunate.

“I know he has the right makeup to come back from this, but it is one of those things where you never want to see a guy seriously hurt. We know we play a dangerous game, but that was a tough one. He is in our thoughts right now, and we are hoping the surgery goes well and he can come back from that.”

Blake Hance, who filled in during Conklin’s absence, will remain at right tackle for the rest of the season.

Stefanski also announced that tight end Harrison Bryant suffered a high ankle sprain against the Ravens and they’ll see how he progresses over the coming weeks.

As a result of Bryant’s injury, Stefanski conceded he may have to rethink his use of three tight end sets within the offense.

“We have to look at that. 13 personnel is a big part of what we do because of those three guys,” Stefanski said. “Without Harrison, definitely we need to pivot. It remains to be seen exactly which direction we go.”

No change – Those hoping that Stefanski would cede play calling responsibilities to offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will be disappointed.

“I am comfortable with the communications that goes on throughout the week and on gameday,” Stefanski said. “I am comfortable with how we are doing it right now. We just have to be better. I have to be better. That is the truth. We just have to find ways to stay on the field and get sevens when we are down there in the red zone.”

Stefanski plans to use the bye week in a similar fashion to a year ago to try to solve the mystery that is the lack of offensive production.

“This week is a very, very big week for the football team,” Stefanski said. “We are determined to get better. As coaches, pull this thing apart, figure out ways we can improve.”

While fans look for someone to blame, Stefanski made it clear it lies at his feet.

“I'm responsible for everything that goes on,” Stefanski said. “Offense, defense and special teams. We're going to work real hard this week with the coaches to make sure that we are giving our guys the best chance moving forward.”

Inactive explanations – Receiver Rashard Higgins and fullback Andy Janovich being listed as inactive raised eyebrows Sunday night.

Stefanski opted for JoJo Natson over Higgins due to special teams. Natson returned one kickoff for 15 yards and played two offensive snaps without a target.

“The inactives, it is a puzzle that you work on each week based on who you think you need, and special teams factors majorly into that,” Stefanski said.

“Similarly, Kareem is coming back and there are guys coming off of injury. Andy is healthy. We think very highly of him. We just felt like that was the right thing to do for that game.”

Despite knowing the Ravens came in with the No. 2 ranked run defense, and Kareem Hunt’s return, the Browns opted o go without a fullback and paid dearly for it. Nick Chubb and Hunt combined to run 15 times for 36 yards.

2 to COVID lists – Long snapper Charley Hughlett was placed on reserve/COVID-19 and fullback Johnny Stanton IV was placed on practice squad/COVID-19 Monday.