The Cleveland Browns announced on Saturday the stunning news that starting safety Damarious Randall would not be making the trip to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers for what was being dubbed as a coach’s decision.
Randall is a key piece of the Browns already depleted secondary and he was not listed on the injury report this week in any capacity, leading to a variety of theories coming out on why he wouldn’t be in the lineup.
The move was reportedly made because of something that happened during the week, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. However, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio had another idea.
Florio thinks the move might have something to do with keeping things under control between the AFC North rivals, who brawled last time they met up in an ugly Thursday night game that ended with Myles Garrett bashing Mason Rudolph in the head with a helmet.
Before that fight, Randall was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Diontae Johnson in the third quarter in a game that was already getting out of hand. Johnson was wobbly as he came off the field and was bleeding from his ear. He was later taken to the locker room on a cart and diagnosed with a concussion.
Here’s Florio’s full take, via Pro Football Talk:
The move to keep Randall, who isn’t injured, off the field seems to reflect an effort to ensure that things stay under control. And it’s hard not to wonder whether that decision was made by someone higher on the Browns and/or NFL organizational chart than Freddie Kitchens. … It could help reduce the temperature on the football field, where the last thing the league needs is another brawl.
Browns Digging Deep on Depth Chart at Safety
With Randall out, the Browns are running dangerously thin at safety.
Rookie fourth-round pick Sheldrick Redwine is next on the depth chart behind Randall, but the Browns could also elect to start T.J. Carrie or Terrance Mitchell.
Greg Robinson, David Njoku Also Inactive Against Steelers
Randall won’t be the only starter missing against the Steelers. Starting left tackle Greg Robinson and tight end David Njoku will also be forced to watch the game against the Steelers in street clothes on Sunday.
Robinson has been dealing with concussion symptoms this week, while Njoku is still battling back from a fractured wrist that landed him on the IR. Njoku has been adamant he’s ready to get back on the field, but to no avail.
Regardless of who’s on the field, the Browns expect the rematch with the Steelers to be a wild one considering their last matchup and that playoff hopes are on the line.
“It’s going to be real loud and a hard-hitting game,” running back Kareem Hunt said. “I feel like (the Steelers) circled this game after that last one, so they’re definitely going to come out ready to hit and do whatever it takes to inflict their will on us.”
The Browns are a two-point road favorite for Sunday’s game, marking the first time since 1989 that Cleveland is favored in Pittsburgh.