Following Thursday night’s game, Brandon Weeden addressed the injury situation. “I believe we have the depth to overcome them,” Weeden said. “We have a lot of young guys to roll with the ‘twos’ that can fill in. It’s just the next guy, that’s part of playing this sport.”
Weeden may be correct about the next man in line having to step up when his opportunity comes around, but do the Browns have the players waiting in the wings for all of the injuries that are mounting?
“There’s going to be injuries, we just have to find ways to overcome them and the good teams do,” said Weeden, echoing the sentiments that came from head coach Rob Chudzinski.
For the Browns, they now have several spots in which the ‘next man up’ will have their number called immediately.
Fortunately for the Browns, running back Trent Richardson looked good in his return to action. Coach Chudzinski also said that Richardson came out of the game healthy. The depth chart behind him is a lot more murky after Thursday.
Montario Hardesty hasn’t played in a preseason game yet, and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee earlier Thursday. He has battled a hamstring injury and also dislocated his thumb. Dion Lewis was poised to take over the second string spot, and likely earn some time as a change of pace back. On Thursday Lewis fractured his fibula. The severity of the fracture is not known yet, but it would be very difficult to imagine Lewis playing anytime soon. It could easily be a season ending injury.
That leaves Brandon Jackson, who rushed seven times against the Lions for negative net yards, and Miguel Maysonet. Jackson caught three passes for 39 yards and a touchdown. Maysonet carried four times for five yards. Chris Ogbonnaya could also be moved back to the running back position instead of trying to turn him into a fullback.
The guard situation is tough. Jason Pinkston was filling in for the injured Shaun Lauvao. Lauvao should be back sometime after the third week of the season if all goes as planned. Lauvao had arthroscopic surgery on his ankle last Friday. Pinkston was injured when a player was pushed onto the back of his legs. The Browns called the injury an ankle sprain, saying that x-rays were negative. Given Pinkston’s reaction at the time of the injury and the way he was unable to put any weight on it coming off the field or out of the locker room it would seem hard to believe Pinkston will be back for the opener.
Rookie Garrett Gilkey was the “next man up” against the Lions. You could call it a baptism by fire for the 2013 seventh round pick from division two Chadron State. Gilkey played last week against the Rams, but he has never faced a player with the physical abilities of Ndamukong Suh.
“That was my first time going against that competition level,” admitted Gilkey. “Suh’s a great competitor, he’s a great athlete. It was good to go against him and to gain that experience. He’s doing nothing but making me better, which is making the team better.”
The rookie learned a few lessons Thursday. “It’s important to realize you have to be ready any second,” he said. “It’s just time to step up and I think that’s one of the things that coach Chud has really expressed and kind of branded these past few weeks, the importance of being ready.”
Gilkey will likely get a chance to hold down the right guard spot until Lauvao or Pinkston return.
The highest profile player injured on Thursday was first round pick Barkevious Mingo. Mingo wasn’t being counted on to be a starter, but if he misses much time with the bruised lung it will certainly set back his progress for the season. Coach Chudzinski said he didn’t know exactly how the injury to Mingo occurred.
Gary Barnidge suffered a sprained shoulder. Barnidge was seeing time with the first unit, depending on the personnel package. Jordan Cameron had a great game. Kellen Davis and Dan Gronkowski will be battling for opportunities as well.
Kicker Brandon Bogotay felt tightness in his groin, but the Browns have veteran Shayne Graham who has been battling Bogotay.