So far this season, Cleveland Browns defensive end Genard Avery has relegated to being mostly a spectator during game days.
Avery played just two snaps in the Browns loss to the Rams and that has been the extent of his action this season. He’s been a healthy scratch in the other five games, a somewhat bizarre situation considering his production a season ago.
Avery played all 16 games in 2018, starting five. He made 40 total tackles, notching five tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, good for fourth on the team. He also forced fumble and was credited with 14 quarterback hits and four passes defended.
With the Browns transitioning to Steve Wilks defense that utilizes two linebackers almost exclusively rather than Gregg Williams’ 4-3 look, Avery made the move to defensive end. With Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon holding down the starting spots, Avery has been supplanted by Chad Thomas and Chris Smith for the backup roles.
Steve Wilks: Genard Avery Could Make ‘Major Impact’
Wilks addressed the absence of Avery on Thursday, telling reporters to petition the NFL to expand the game day roster from 46 to the full 53-man roster.
“I know there’s a lot of speculation out there,” Wilks said. “If you guys really want to try to help us out, I think you could petition to the league — I don’t know if it will work — to where you may get all 53 guys up on game day. When you look at the big picture, sometimes it equates special teams. It’s just not defense and what we are trying to get done. It’s really the big picture of the team and which guys are up. Who’s going to help out more on special team and the rotation that particular week up front on defense. Is it more of a running team? Do we need more of a run stopper in there?”
Wilks went on to compliment Avery and his ability to impact games.
“I think Genard brings a great skill set,” Wilks said. “He has tremendous speed off the edge, he has ability to get to the quarterback and sometimes effect the game in a positive way. We’ll see exactly what happens this way and who’s up. I’m sure if he is, he’ll make a major impact on the game.”
Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams Primed for Return
Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams have each missed the past four games with hamstring injuries, but have been full participants in practice this week.
“They looked good,” head coach Freddie Kitchens said on Thursday. “They look like they’ve come back out ready to play. We need them to play well.”
Veterans Terrance Mitchell and T.J. Carrie had been filling in previously.
The Brown are not 100 percent healthy in the defensive backfield, however. Safety Damarious Randall has been the lone Browns player on the 53-man roster that has been unable to practice this week. Kitchens called Randall day-to-day with a hamstring issue.
The Patriots will be without wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was sent to the IR on Wednesday. However, a full-strength defense would go a long way in slowing down Tom Brady and the Patriots, who are installed as 13-point favorites.