The first of three suspension appeals resulting from last Thursday night’s brawl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns have been settled, and it leaves the latter without one of their defensive starters Sunday’s next game.
NFL appeals officer James Thrash upheld the one-game suspension of Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi on Wednesday afternoon, according to multiple sources, for his role in the fight that also drew suspensions for Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey.
Thrash did, however, rescind the additional fine of $10,527 for what projects to be about $48,000 in lost earnings for missing Week 12’s game.
Ogunjobi received his one-game ban after arriving late to the on-field fight that spun out of a conflict between Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph. Long after Garrett had ripped off Rudolph’s helmet and taken a swing at his head — for which he was given an indefinite suspension — Ogunjobi blindsided a defenseless Rudolph while he was pleading his case to a nearby official.
Both teams, however, will have to wait until later this week to learn the fates of Pouncey and Garrett after having their individual appeals heard.
Pouncey received a three-game suspension for throwing punches and landing a kick to Garrett’s helmet while the Browns defender was pinned in the end zone. All three of them were ejected in what has been assessed as one of the worst incidents in recent NFL history.
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What Does This Mean for Garrett’s Case?
Considering Garrett’s actions — again, striking a quarterback in his unprotected head with his own helmet — are worse in severity than Ogunjobi’s cheap shot means his case isn’t looking too great in light of Wednesday’s upheld suspension.
Thrash also heard Garrett’s appeal Wednesday morning for his without-pay suspension that bans him for at least the remaining six games of the Browns’ regular season as well as any potential postseason games.
According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the appeal argument cited the punishment given to former Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith, who was suspended in 2013 for three total games — two in the preseason — after swinging his helmet at a former Miami Dolphins player. Garrett argued banning him six games was excessive under such precedent, especially since Smith only missed out on one paycheck for his penalty.
Graziano also said the Pro Bowl defensive end argued the NFL was not permitted to give him such a suspension under the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Who Replaces Ogunjobi?
Former Auburn standout Devaroe Lawrence is the next in line to fill in for Ogunjobi at defensive tackle this Sunday when the Browns (4-6) host the Dolphins (2-8) at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Lawrence has played at least nine defensive snaps in every game this season for Cleveland, taking one of his highest counts yet (28) during the 21-7 win against the Steelers. That said, he hasn’t recorded a tackle since Week 9 and has no more than two in a single game apart from a two-tackle game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 3.
Lawrence’s best performance of the season, though, came in the Browns’ biggest win. He tallied a quarterback hit and an interception while playing a season-high 42 percent of defensive snaps as the Browns won 40-25 over the Baltimore Ravens.