CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Life goes on.
No matter how devastating the news, and Deshaun Watson being lost for the season due to a broken shoulder was an all-timer on the derailer scale, Kevin Stefanski and the Browns must move on.
Here’s our top Brownie Bites in the wake of an awful news day for the Browns.
Next man up – There’s no time for the Browns to sulk. The Steelers come to town Sunday. “We have a job to do,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said. Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson will start instead of veteran P.J. Walker. “He's played a lot of football. He's very athletic and make plays, has a very good understanding of what we do of our offense and those type of things,” Stefanski said. “So he's a young player that I think will just continue to get better.” Thompson-Robinson was thrust into service 2.5 hours prior to kickoff against the Ravens on October 1 and it was a disaster. He completed 19 of 31 passes for 121 yards with three interceptions and the Browns lost 28-3. And now the fifth-round pick must face Pittsburgh. “I just felt like, as you know, every week you're trying to just make the best decisions you can for your team,” Stefanski said. “I want to give him a week where he knows he's a starter, he gets a full week of preparation.” Stefanski praised Thompson-Robinson’s work in practice in recent weeks, including last week. “Gave him a scout team game ball last week with his work as prepping our defense for the Ravens,” Stefanski said. “So he's gotten better and better, I think in practice. Works very hard in the meeting room with all those guys and AVP, so he's working very hard.”
The aftermath – The brave faces were working overtime Wednesday in Berea from EVP/GM Andrew Berry to Kevin Stefanski to Watson’s teammates, but the gravity of losing Watson is hard to overstate. “It's tough,” rookie receiver Cedric Tillman said.. “Obviously we know how hard Deshaun has worked to get back. He is dealt with injuries this year and it's unfortunate, especially the time you put into this. So we'll just rally behind him and try to support him.” Every player that spoke in the locker room kept a positive outlook. “Losing your franchise quarterback obviously is never ideal, but I feel like the mood in our locker room is opportunity,” linebacker Anthony Walker said. “We all understand that it sucks losing Deshaun, but we have an opportunity to keep the season going. We're in a great position right now. We control our own destiny and that's our mindset right now. So obviously we love our brother, we want him to be out there with us, but right now we have to focus on going 1-0 this week.” There’s no question the defense will need to carry the load going forward, but they seem ready for the pressure. “I feel like there's no pressure, man,” cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. said. “It might be pressure from the outside looking in, but for us, this always been our standard and it is just another test, honestly, and just another test that I feel like we are ready for, that we will be ready for. And you just got to find a way to get it done. At the end of the day, just do your job, do your one [of] 11, and you walk away from the game and say you did your best and you gave it all you got. Then that's all you can ask for.”
Keep the faith – Berry pointed to the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, who won Super Bowl LII without starter Carson Wentz, as an example of why the Browns can believe their goals are still attainable. Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and safety Rodney McLeod were members of that Super Bowl winner. McLeod explained how they didn’t allow losing Wentz to derail their season. “Faith and belief and our mindset, our attitude never shifted,” McLeod said. “Our goals never shifted. And so that's what is going to be the test for this team is our mindset and our attitude each and every day and building that confidence in one another and the guys who now are going to step in and be asked to fill huge shoes.” The playoffs are still attainable, but it’s hard to consider the Browns legitimate contenders without Watson but that’s not the mindset in the locker room. “We can still accomplish what we want to accomplish as long as everybody buys in and we stay as a team,” Emerson said. “And I feel like, man, it is just a test. Honestly. Just another test to this team. We've been battle tested multiple times and I'm pretty sure that as long as everybody has their best foot forward, we'll be just fine.”
Designated to return – Guard Michael Dunn was designated to return from injured reserve Wednesday. Dunn has appeared in four games with a start this season before suffering a calf injury October 15 against San Francisco.
They’re back – The white face masks are back this week. Don’t be surprised if the Browns make this a permanent change following the positive reception they received from fans when they were used last December against the Ravens. The Browns official logo has featured the brown face mask since the 2015 uniform overhaul and remained after the 2020 change. Logo and uniform changes are typically a two-year process with the league office.
Injury report – DNP: WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion), RT Dawand Jones (knee), S Juan Thornhill (calf), RG Wyatt Teller (ankle), WR Amari Cooper (rest/ankle), S Grant Delpit (rest/shoulder), LG Joel Bitonio (rest), TE David Njoku (rest/knee), DE Za'Darius Smith (rest), S Rodney McLeod (rest), LB Anthony Walker Jr. (rest); LIMITED: WR David Bell (knee), WR Greg Newsome II (groin), DE Ogbo Okoronkwo (groin), CB Denzel Ward (neck), DE Alex Wright (knee); FULL: OG Michael Dunn (calf), RB Pierre Strong (knee)