Adkins: Five Injuries the Browns Can't Endure

The injury bug has been biting the Browns all pre-season long. At what point, is the team significantly hampered, to the point of having to struggle? Lane looks at five players the team needs to keep healthy...

All teams have to deal with injuries. There is always a ripple effect when a player gets hurt, whether it impacts the depth of a roster, or even allows an emerging talent to mature. All teams have to face injuries over the course of a season.

Some teams are built to persevere, others let the injury bug derail their seasons.

For the 2008 Cleveland Browns, there are certain positions where an injury would create a difficult situation. Here are five that think would have the biggest impact on the squad:

- WR Braylon Edwards - Overall quality and depth at the WR position would make the loss of Edwards difficult to overcome. After watching the player come into his own in the 2007 season, the Browns would have to be considered suspect at receiver if deprived of Edwards' explosive quality. The passing game would take on a much different look and the offense generally could struggle due to the lack of a legitimate star lined-up wide.

- OT Joe Thomas - Thomas is one of the top-three left tackles in the game. He is a difference maker for the Browns. Without a solid LT for years, the Browns struggled with their backside protection. The drafting of Thomas and free agent signing of LG Eric Steinbach solidified the left-side of the Cleveland offensive line, which led to an improved Browns rushing game, while adding to the confidence of their quarterbacks. Lose Thomas and the offensive line will be significantly weaker with two players likely to have to change positions.

- CB Brandon McDonald - With a lack of quality and depth in the defensive backfield, this second-year CB is quickly becoming the best option at the position for the team. Somewhat undersized, McDonald makes up for his lack of stature with his ability to get into position, find the ball in-flight and use his hands to slow or change the receivers direction. McDonald has great feet and rotational instincts to change direction.

- RB Jamal Lewis - The veteran RB brings more to the table than just a back carrying the ball. Lewis is a bruising runner that brings an attitude to the Cleveland offense, as well as a dynamic presence in the backfield. Lewis' presence expresses confidence and attitude that simply isn't taught. The experience of this RB elevates the play and development of others on the roster.

- S Sean Jones - Jones appeared to be on the fast-track to stardom following a very good 2006 season with the Browns. In the 2007 season, the Cleveland defensive backfield struggled and, in turn, Jones' play also struggled at times due to communication and recognition problems within the Browns defense. Thanks partially to a scaled-back defensive system relying more on athleticism and preparation, Jones was having solid training camp sessions. Fighting a knee injury as the season begins, if Jones is unable to suit-up and play, the depth at the position is limited and an already questionable defensive backfield could be exposed immediately.


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