Clowney went down with what looked to be a non-contact injury, rolling his ankle. He limped to the medical tent before heading to the locker room. Clowney was initially dubbed questionable to return but was later downgraded to out. He was spotted leaving the stadium in a walking boot.
“He’s a tenatious rusher and plays the run very well. Missing his presence is huge,” Browns defense end Myles Garrett said. “They saw that and attacked us a little different. I can switch sides but they don’t have to worry about us both screaming off the edges.”
Clowney was making his impact felt against the Jets, registering a strip-sack on Joe Flacco in the second quarter. He had three tackles and a half-sack in the Browns opener against the Panthers. Clowney’s presence could have been used as the Jets drove late for the eventual game-winning touchdown.
“He was playing well,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “Certainly, in that type of game when they are throwing it to try and catch up, you want your best guys on the field, but guys have to step up and young guys have to step up.”
Clowney’s impact is hard to replace but the Browns turned to rookie Alex Wright to step in, as well as veteran Chase Winovich.
Injuries Have Been Issue During Clowney’s Career
Injuries have been a problem throughout Clowney’s career. Clowney has missed 32 games in his career, including 12 in his rookie season after having microfracture knee surgery.
He admitted after initially signing with the Browns in 2021 that he’s never been truly healthy during his time in the NFL. Despite that, he’s made a trio of Pro Bowls and was a second-team All-Pro in 2016.
“The funny part, I tell people my career started off slow because I got hurt the first game of my career with a microfracture, probably the worst thing you could have in this game,” Clowney told reporters in his introductory press conference. “I still can dominate this league, I know that. But if I ever reach my max potential or get back there like I feel now, they say the sky is the limit, but it is probably higher than that.”
Clowney has been solid during his Browns tenure. Last year, Clowney notched nine sacks, good for second on the team behind Myles Garrett. He also did a lot of things that didn’t show up in the box score and was highly effective as a run-stopper.
Browns Injury Scares Aplenty Against Jets
Clowney wasn’t the only one banged up against the Jets. Tight end Harrison Bryant also headed to the locker room with an apparent concussion but did return to the game.
While Bryant’s stats won’t pop out in the box score, he’s an important part of the offense, with the Browns utilizing multiple tight end sets often. He notched three catches for 45 yards against the Jets, with David Njoku adding three for 32 yards.
The bigger scare for the Browns was when Jacoby Brissett came up limping following a sack where his left leg bent strangely. He finished the game and made it clear that’d he be ready for the next outing.
“Just a little bit,” Brissett said when asked if he experienced any pain. “I should be fine.”
The Browns will look to get back on track against the Steelers in their first AFC North matchup of the year in primetime on Thursday. If Brissett is somehow not ready to go, Joshua Dobbs would draw the start.