Browns 'D' Bruised, Battered

Injuries are taking a toll on a unit that is giving up big chunks of yards on the ground.

BEREA, Ohio—The Browns defense is hurting.

Last week, Phil Taylor was lost with a season-ending knee injury and placed on injured reserve. It appears the Browns are down two more starters as Karlos Dansby and Jabaal Sheard went down in the loss to the Texans.

Earlier this season, Armonty Bryant was placed on injured reserve and John Hughes was placed on injured reserve. Hughes could return, but not until the final game.

On Monday, Mike Pettine confirmed what was feared. Dansby is expected to miss at least a month, while Sheard could be lost for the season.

“(The time) is not definitive,” Pettine said. “They’ll both be some time. Dansby was a knee. I don’t think his season is over, but I don’t think we have the exact window, could be upwards of a month.

“Sheard, I think we’re still waiting on, an injury to his foot,” he said. “I think that’s potentially a little more serious than Dansby. There is a possibility he could be done (for the season).”

Reports are that Dansby sprained the medial cruciate ligament in his knee. Pettine said he didn’t know if Dansby needed surgery.

Craig Robertson is expected to step in and call the defensive signals.

“That’s the short term,” Pettine said. “We also have Tank (Carder) who did come in and take some reps. In a number of positions, our depth has been affected. (GM) Ray (Farmer) and his group upstairs, I know, are weighing all the options, and we’ll be looking to bring some guys in, bring some guys up. We’ll have a better sense by the end of the (Monday) what the plan is for all those spots moving forward.”

Pettine admitted the injuries are a big blow to the defense.

“It is,” Pettine said. “It’s a shame that he’d been playing at a high level and that it is more than just – as you said – the playing, his ability on the field. It’s how he’s been in the meeting room, locker room, out on the practice field, just the intensity, the energy, the leadership. That’s all part of it.”

After allowing 213 yards rushing to the Texans--minus Arian Foster--the Browns have dropped to 31st in the NFL in defending the run. The loss of key players isn’t going to help in that department.

“It’s difficult,” Pettine said. “It’s something that we have to find a way to overcome. We don’t want to overdo it scheme-wise and start to zero-blitz people to stop the run because then you’re going to give up big plays. It’s a consistency-thing.

“We could make a cut-up of some of the runs yesterday where we played the run extremely well, then other ones where we had a breakdown - a guy got cut on the backside and couldn’t get back to his feet or just a guy making a mistake and they found him,” he said. “It’s something we need to press forward with. There’s no magical answer to it. You look at it. It’s all wrapped up in the little details. Sometimes we do it well; sometimes we don’t. It has to become more consistent no matter who’s in there.”

Pettine said that the Browns might have to adjust their scheme with different personnel.

“We’ll see as we kind of piece the plan together and see where we are with it,” he said. “I know that there’s not much help coming from the outside this time of year. That’s something that we’ll likely discuss tonight as we start to game plan and probably get into it a little bit heavier tomorrow.”

Notebook

Gordon’s Back: WR Josh Gordon is back and able to begin practicing with the team when they start their preparations for the Falcons this Sunday.

Pettine thinks it’s unfair to put too much pressure on Gordon to immediately solve the problems on offense.

“I do because I think that we’ve accomplished a lot with the group that we have,” he said. “I don’t think it’s time for those guys to just step back and turn and say, ‘OK, here’s a guy that’s going to come in and be a savior,’ so to speak. We’ve played a lot of good football. I think that group has done an outstanding job. Whether it’s Miles (Austin), whether it’s Hawk (Andrew Hawkins), (Taylor) Gabriel, Travis (Benjamin), I think they’ve all done exceptionally well throughout the year.

“They’ve all had their moments making big plays,” he said. “They’ve blocked well in the run game. It’s been a complete group. As far as a group exceeding expectations, of any one-position group, I would think you’d have to say it was the wide receivers. I think we’re looking for more of the same from them, and again, it’ll be a process with Josh. We’re going to be smart.”

Gordon has missed the first 10 games serving a suspension for an illegal substance. His season long suspension was reduced to 10 games before the season began. Gordon does not count against the 53-man roster until he’s activated.


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