Browns Make Final Call on Clowney’s Playing Status vs. Steelers

Jadeveon Clowney, Browns

Getty Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates fourth down for the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Two prominent members of the Cleveland Browns suffered ankle injuries over the weekend — particularly tough breaks considering a short week that ends just three days from now in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski spoke with media members Monday, noting that starting pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney will be unavailable Thursday night.

“Injury front … Jadeveon Clowney has an ankle injury,” Stefanski said. “He will be out this week due to that injury.”

Clowney was seen wearing a walking boot while leaving the stadium the day before.

Stefanski noted further that defensive end Chase Winovich will miss the contest against the Steelers with a hamstring injury, while tight end Jesse James will be forced to sit it out due to a bicep issue.

Temporary starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett came up limping following a fourth-quarter sack by the New York Jets Sunday but was able to return for the remainder of the game. Following the gut-wrenching loss, Brissett declared with certainty that he will suit up against Pittsburgh.

“For sure,” Brissett said when asked if would be available Thursday. “I will be fine.”

Garrett Sounds Off on What Clowney’s Injury Means For Browns

Myles Garrett, Browns

GettyDE Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns hits QB Joe Flacco of the New York Jets during a game at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

Clowney’s absence hit the Browns’ defense hard, particularly during the fourth quarter when Cleveland allowed 17 points to the Jets. Defensive end Myles Garrett spoke to Clowney’s injury and how it changed the complexity of the game.

“It’s tough. He’s a very tenacious rusher. He plays the run very well. Missing his presence is huge, especially when they see that and they attack us differently knowing that they don’t have to worry about both of us coming around the edges,” Garrett said. “It is tough missing him … it’s tough missing his presence, especially mid-game when we needed him for one of those stops.”

Garrett’s personal performance bottomed out in the final stanza Sunday, as the Browns lost their grip on the game. Reporters asked Stefanski Monday to what factor, or factors, he attributes Garrett’s late decline in play.

“I would probably say it is small sample size,” Stefanski said of Garrett’s dip in pass rush win rate. “He is playing at a high level. We are going to continue to need him to play at a high level.”

Browns Will Likely Turn to DE Alex Wright in Clowney’s Absence

Alex Wright, Browns

GettyDefensive end Alex Wright of the Cleveland Browns during a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 21, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Cleveland’s need for Garrett to dominate will only be amplified by the beating the Browns continue to take at the defensive end position.

Stephen Weatherly, a new addition to the group this offseason, sustained a knee injury during practice on August 6 that sidelined him for the year. Now with Clowney and Winovich out, Cleveland must turn to rookie pass rusher Alex Wright, who the team selected No. 78 overall in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft.

Wright has played a total of 38 percent of the Browns’ defensive snaps (47) through two games this season, per Pro Football Reference, registering two tackles and two passes defensed.

Though his experience is limited, Bleacher Report named Wright among the top 10 draft steals prior to the beginning of the year. He will get a chance to prove them correct Thursday, in what has become a crucial bounce back game for the Browns (1-1) to open AFC North Division play.

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