The Cleveland Browns lost starting right tackle Jack Conklin early against the Cincinnati Bengals, with the former Pro Bowler being carted off the field in the second quarter.
At the end of a pass-block snap, Conklin collided with Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who slid into his leg. Conklin immediately went down in visible pain and the cart came out for him shortly after. The Browns announced it was a knee injury.
Conklin signed a four-year, $60 million extension in December of 2022, with $31 million guaranteed. The Browns were confident that he could hold down the right tackle spot for the foreseeable future.
“Cleveland will be my home forever,” Conklin said after signing the deal. “Obviously, I would like to be here for the rest of my career. We’ll see what happens and how that works out. This is the place that I definitely want to be.”
However, Conklin has had a rough run with injuries. He has missed 13 games over the last two seasons, which included a serious torn patellar tendon in 2021.
Browns Turn to Monster Rookie Dawand Jones
With Conklin out, the Browns turned to rookie Dawand Jones, who played a hefty amount in the preseason. Jones is massive at 6-foot-8, 375 pounds and the Browns were happy with his progression during camp.
“I really thought his pass protection took some major steps,” offensive line coach Bill Callahan said.”He still has a long way to go yet. We’re still working on the run technique aspects of his play to make him a more complete player, but it was good to see him perform under the lights against good competition, taking third down sets, which are so critical to protection.”
The Browns wanted to see Jones work in the preseason. He played the entire Hall of Fame Game against the Jets and didn’t allow a pressure.
“He knew going in he was going to play the whole game and I thought we got an honest day’s work from him,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “Playing the whole game and not playing football in a little while – as you get into training camp and with the heat, I thought he did a nice job.”
Wet Conditions Affecting Browns’ Opener Against Bengals
The opener in Cleveland was a very wet affair, with both offenses sputtering in the rain. The Bengals couldn’t muster up any offense for the majority of the first half, with Joe Burrow struggling to find any kind of rhythm.
The Browns did a little better, with Nick Chubb helping lead the way on the ground. But the Pro Bowl back also got much more involved in the passing game, notching four early receptions. Cleveland had said prior to the start of the season that Chubb would be utilized more as a pass-catcher.
“Whether it’s the ball in his hands out of the backfield as a receiver, or handing it to him whether we’re under the shotgun, I think Nick will fit in well,” Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said on September 7. “His skill set, he’s not just a dot runner, he’s not an under center, just wide zone runner. He can do a lot of different things. And the way he gets ready for the season and the offseason with his training, his ability to run with the football. I feel good about throwing it to him, handing it to him from the gun or under center.”