Browns Lose Another Starting Linebacker to Season-Ending Injury

Jacob Phillips

Getty Images Jacob Phillips of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns‘ linebacking corps took another hit on Sunday, with Jacob Phillips suffering a season-ending pectoral injury.

Phillips left the loss against the Ravens in the second half with the injury, which led to newly-acquired veteran Deion Jones taking more reps. Phillips became the starter when Anthony Walker Jr. went down with a season-ending knee injury. Phillips — a third-round pick in 2020 — was coming off a year where he missed 13 games with a biceps injury.

“I feel for all of our guys when they are going through these. It is not fun to be hurt,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “It is not fun to be in the training room. It is not fun to go get surgery. It is not fun to go get surgery. Unfortunately, Jacob has had to do that. I know this, he responds when he has to do this. He works like crazy. I know he will work like crazy to get back out there. Unfortunately, injuries are part of our game. You see it too often in this league, and it is so unfortunate for the players and in this case Jacob, but it also is part of the game.”

Phillips had notched 46 tackles, two sacks and two tackles for loss, appearing in seven games and starting four. However, Phillips struggled in a larger role. He graded out below average at 36.5 on Pro Football Focus, with his run defense being the most significant issue.

Deion Jones Set for Larger Role With Phillips Out

With Phillips now done, Jones will likely take over the starting role. He played 33 snaps against the Ravens, his first game as a member of the Browns following a trade from the Falcons.

Jones was a Pro Bowler in 2017 and has notched over 100 tackles in five of his six seasons. The only season he did not was when he played just six games in 2018. He also has 11 interceptions, five defensive touchdowns and 8.5 sacks to his name.

He is coming off a rough year in Atlanta where he graded out below average at
34.6, per Pro Football Focus. Jones was dealing with a shoulder injury and had not played with the Falcons prior to the trade.

“He is a good veteran linebacker for us,” Stefanski said. “He hasn’t played football in a little while so I think it was just natural that he is playing himself into — he is in good shape — football shape, if you will, just because of when you haven’t played in a while and you are thrust out there. I think he will only get better because of that.”

Browns CB Denzel Ward Still in Concussion Protocol

A significant issue on the defensive side of the ball is Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward being sidelined. He’s missed the last two games after he suffered a concussion in an October 9 game against the Chargers. Stefanski confirmed Ward is still in concussion protocol.

Ward signed a hefty extension this offseason, making him the highest paid cornerback in the NFL at the time. He has 207 tackles, 11 picks and four fumble recoveries in 57 games for the Browns.

The Browns are also banged up at the tight end position. Starter David Njoku is week-to-week with an ankle injury — with it being estimated he’ll miss between 2-to-5 weeks — and his fellow tight end Pharaoh Brown is in concussion protocol.

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