Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Browns make final call for Clowney’s game status Vs. Stahler

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Two prominent members of the Cleveland Browns suffered ankle injuries over the weekend – particularly tough breaks given a short week that ends in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in just three days.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski spoke to members of the media Monday and noted that starting pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney will be unavailable Thursday night.

“Injury front … Jadeveon Clowney has an ankle injury,” Stefanski said. “He will be out this week because of this injury.”

Clowney was seen wear a walking shoe when leaving the stadium the day before.

Stefanski further noted that defensive end Chase Winovich will miss the match against the Steelers with a hamstring injury, while tight end Jesse James will be forced to sit out with a bicep problem.

Temporary starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett hobbled through the New York Jets on Sunday after a fourth-quarter sack but was able to return for the remainder of the game. After the heartbreaking defeat, Brissett declared with certainty that he will be playing against Pittsburgh.

“Sure,” Brissett said when asked if he was available Thursday. “I’ll be fine.”

Clowney’s absence hit the Browns’ defense hard, especially in the fourth quarter when Cleveland conceded 17 points to the Jets. Defensive end Myles Garrett spoke about Clowney’s injury and how it changed the complexity of the game.

“It’s difficult. He’s a very tenacious rusher. He plays the run very well. Missing his presence is huge, especially when they see that and attack us differently because they know they don’t have to worry that we both coming to the edge,” Garrett said. “It’s hard to miss him…it’s hard to miss his presence, especially in the middle of the game when we needed him for one of those stops.”

Garrett’s personal performance hit rock bottom in the final verse on Sunday when the Browns lost control of the game. Reporters asked Stefanski Monday what factor or factors he attributed to Garrett’s late game decline.

“I would probably say it’s a small sample size,” Stefanski said of Garrett’s dip in pass rush win rate. “He’s playing at a high level. We will continue to need him to play at a high level.”

Cleveland’s need to dominate Garrett is only compounded by the punches the Browns continue to take in the defensive end position.

Stephen Weatherly, a newcomer to the group this offseason, suffered a knee injury during practice on Aug. 6 that sidelined him for the year. Now that Clowney and Winovich are out, Cleveland must turn to rookie pass rusher Alex Wright, whom the team picked 78th overall in the third round of this year’s NFL draft.

Wright has played a total of 38 percent of the Browns’ defensive snaps (47) in two games this season, according to Pro Football Reference, registering two tackles and two passes defended.

Although his experience is limited, Bleacher Report ranked Wright in the top 10 draft steals earlier in the year. He will get a chance to prove them right on Thursday in a crucial setback for the Browns (1-1) to open the game in the AFC North Division.

Wright has played a total of 38 percent of the Browns’ defensive snaps (47) in two games this season, according to Pro Football Reference, registering two tackles and two passes defended.



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