The Cleveland Browns got some good news this week, with David Njoku being cleared for full contact in practice.
However, it might still be a bit before Njoku becomes a contributor again on game day. Despite being designated for a return, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that “unless he perks up quicker than anticipated” he won’t play against the Dolphins on Sunday.
Njoku had been on injured reserve since Sept. 20 with a broken wrist he suffered in a Week 2 victory against the Jets. He announced on social media that he had been “activated.”
Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens confirmed that Njoku had been “designated for return” on Wednesday.
“He’s getting more healthy,” Kitchens told reporters. “I don’t know what kind of condition he’s in.”
Kitchens added: “If he can only play two plays, he can’t help us.”
David Njoku Seeking for Strong Finish to Season
Njoku decided not to have surgery on the wrist in hopes of returning this season. He’ll be a key addition to a Browns offense that has looked better of late. Head coach Freddie Kitchens spoke on the important of the pass-catching TE when he went down.
“David is a good player so definitely him being limited right now or whatever presents problems for us,” Kitchens said at the time of the injury. “This game in the National Football League is about attrition so you have to deal with it on your side and other teams do, as well. We will get the next guy in there and make sure he knows what to do. When somebody goes down, that is another opportunity for someone else so we will see how it goes.”
Njoku, a former first-round pick of the Browns, is a physical specimen at 6-foot-4, 246 pounds with 4.6 40-yard dash speed. He was taken in the first round of the 2017 by the Browns.
Last year, Njoku essentially doubled his production in the passing game from his rookie season, collecting 56 catches for 639 yards and four touchdowns. He caught four balls for 18 yards and one touchdown in the Browns opener against the Titans.
This season Njoku was off to a slow start with just four catches for 37 yards and one touchdown. That being said, he’s one of the NFL’s best pass-catching tight ends and will be missed.
Njoku is in the third year of a four-year rookie contract, with an option available for a fifth. While he’s one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the NFL, he’s yet to have a 100-yard game in his career and his blocking leaves much to be desired.
DE Olivier Vernon Still Out for Browns
Pro Bowl defensive end Olivier Vernon is still out with a knee injury, which has forced him to miss the last two games.
While the Browns won’t rush him back, his presence is particularly important because of Myles Garret’s season-long suspension.
Chad Thomas got the start last week for Vernon and Chris Smith would slide into a staring role as well with Garrett also unavailable.