Steelers offensive tackle Chuks Okorafor is getting it from all angles this week, especially Browns stars Myles Garrett and Kareem Hunt after a questionable hit on linebacker Anthony Walker.
Blocking on a shovel pass to running back Jaylen Warren, Okorafor engaged Walker on a block downfield when the linebacker fell awkwardly to the ground, face-first.
Moments after the play was over, as if jumping off the ropes in a wrestling ring, Okorafor forcefully threw all 320 pounds of his body weight onto Walker’s back.
Walker ended up getting carted off the field with what would later be reported as a season-ending torn quad tendon. After review, it was determined Walker suffered the devastating injury during the initial block and not the hit afterward.
A costly penalty flag was thrown on Okorafor for what was thought to be a late hit but instead was for ineligible receiver downfield. The only thing he was flagged for was being ineligible downfield to nullify a 35-yard catch-and-run, one of the Steelers’ biggest ground gains of the night. The penalty put them out of field goal range, and they punted two plays later. Cleveland then scored to take a 14-point lead they would never surrender.
Okorafor said after the game that he was just doing his job, and didn’t realize Walker had hurt his knee on the play.
“I’m just playing football, man,” the lineman said in a media scrum after the game.
Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski said in a Sept. 23 press conference: “I will let the league handle those things,” and had no further comment.
While the move didn’t draw an unsportsmanlike penalty flag, Okorafor can still be fined by the NFL. The league will announce Week 3 fines and suspensions for warranted infractions.
Reaction from Browns Stars Myles Garrett, Kareen Hunt
Cleveland Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett had a slightly harsher stance than coach Kevin Stefanski, coming to Anthony Walker’s defense.
“That was a bull**** play,” Garrett told cleveland.com on Sept. 26. “[Walker’s] not moving. You don’t jump on a guy. That was a bull**** play.”
Running back Kareem Hunt, who had 47 yards on 12 carries in the win, agreed with Garrett.
“That ain’t the way we play football,” said Hunt. “It wasn’t a good sight, especially when a guy got hurt on the play.”
Though Hunt has never seen “dive on an injured player with your full weight” in his playbook, per cleveland.com, cornerback Greg Newsome II has.
“I feel like that’s just something o-linemen do in the NFL, you get pancaked, they’ll jump on you or something like that,” Newsome said. “I feel like I’ve seen it before.”
Okorafor has been blasted on social media this week, with the play being called “dirty” and “bush league.” One Browns fan went as far as to tweet that the “Steelers are dirtier than gas station toilets.”
Browns’ Myles Garrett Released from Hospital
Shortly after Myles Garrett’s Monday, Sept. 26 comments aimed at Chuks Okorafor, he was involved in a single-car accident on his way home from practice. Garrett suffered non-life-threatening injuries (no broken bones) and was released from the hospital Monday night.
According to a FOX 8 Cleveland report, Garrett’s vehicle “flipped several times” before it came to a stop. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Garrett overcorrected on wet pavement while swerving to avoid an animal.
It’s unlikely Garrett will suit up for Cleveland’s Week 4 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 2.