Pass-rushing linebacker Antwan Peek suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice Wednesday. Coach Romeo Crennel said Peek tore his right patellar tendon. Peek was operated on Thursday morning.
The injury means an increased role for rookie Alex Hall, a seventh-round pick from Saint Augustine's College in Raleigh, N.C.
"It is a big jump, but I'm ready for it," Hall said when asked about facing the Cowboys in the season opener Sunday. "They didn't bring me in just to sit around and look. They brought me in to help and play. I'm prepared."
The Browns filled Peek's roster spot by re-signing Shantee Orr, a linebacker they signed in the offseason to replace Chaun Thompson as a special teams player and a fill-in at linebacker. Orr was released Saturday when rosters were cut to 53.
Orr had 10.5 sacks over the first five years of his career. Seven of those were in 2005 when he was with Houston. He had 1.5 sacks over the last two years.
The Browns were counting on Peek to provide pressure from the left side with Kamerion Wimbley rushing from the right. Peek was bothered by minor injuries in 2007. He missed only two games, but because he was always hurt, he was never completely healthy. He had only four sacks.
Peek underwent arthroscopic surgery on July 31 to remove cartilage in his knee. He was excited to practice in full pads Wednesday. Then his season ended and the Browns' pass-rush plans had to be adjusted.
"Antwan is a good player. It hurts to lose him," Wimbley said. "But we still have Willie McGinest. We have Shantee Orr back and we have Alex Hall. All those players are capable of playing. I think we'll be fine."
Hall started against the Lions and Bears and totaled two tackles and a quarterback hurry, causing coach Romeo Crennel to say Hall looked better in practice than in games. But now here the rookie is, focusing on Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. McGinest will start. Hall, lanky at 6-5, 250, would play in pass-rush situations.
"Hall and Orr will both have to play Sunday," Crennel said. "The fact Hall has made some progress during training camp is a plus for him. Experience is a plus for Orr. Orr has good first-step quickness. He showed ability to rush the passer. He might surprise some people.
"Hall continued to make progress -- maybe not as fast as initially. You flash in this league, more gets added to your plate. Sometimes that progress slows a little bit, but he's still coming along. We still like him."