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Need to Know: Browns hope banged up secondary can play vs. Baltimore

Posted Dec 15, 2017

Cleveland could be without Jamar Taylor and Briean Boddy-Calhoun this weekend

CLEVELAND — The Browns could be down two important players on defense this weekend.

Cornerbacks Jamar Taylor (foot) is questionable and Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee) is doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Ravens, according to the team’s final injury report. Cleveland could also be without backup Darius Hillary (knee), who is questionable.

Browns coach Hue Jackson said it’s unclear if the trio of defensive backs will be able to play against a Baltimore offense that’s starting to click down the stretch.

“I wish we would get some of these guys back,” he said Friday. “We will see and know a little bit more tomorrow, but all of these guys have some nicks. We just have to work through it.”

Already playing without starters in linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, who were both placed on injured reserve last month, a young Browns defense has been hampered by injuries — especially in the secondary — throughout this season. Losing players at cornerback, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said, is particularly backbreaking.

“One of the hardest things to do is that right there because that is the biggest space player on the team,” Williams said. “The corner has to handle more space and time than anybody in the National Football League on defense. That’s a tough thing to do. We have to kind of do some creative things to help some of those guys when they get a chance to play, yes.”

— The good news is the Browns should get rookie safety Jabrill Peppers (knee) back this weekend after missing last week’s game against Green Bay. Peppers, the former Michigan standout, said he’s ready to go and hopes to make an impact in the final three weeks of the season despite nagging injuries earlier this year. “My body feels good. I feel fresh, but it’s just these little bumps and bruises that don’t go away until you are off them completely,” he said, “but that’s the name of the game. Everyone is nicked up at this point. You still have to perform.”

— Jackson has challenged rookie defensive end and No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick Myles Garrett to dominate opposing offensive lines as the Browns’ season comes to a close. While Garrett — who has been limited by injuries at times this year — has five sacks in eight games, he hasn’t gotten to the quarterback in the past two weeks. “That’s just part of it. You go through that rut a little bit sometimes where you know you are almost there. It is just one more step,” Jackson said. “Like you said, a fraction of a second. I’m sure he feels that, but one thing I know about Myles, he is going to keep coming. Eventually, it is going to break through where he gets one of these multiple-sack games because he is due. He just has to stay after it and keep playing, and that is what type of person he is.”

— Browns running back Isaiah Crowell had his first 100-yard game in Sunday’s loss to the Packers, totaling 121 yards on 19 carries. Jackson said it’s the result of the unit coming into form late in the season after a season-ending injury to Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas in October.  “We were just coming into it. Things were going. Then you lose Joe. Then you have to find out who you are again a little bit. Then you get in that lull a little bit again. Then you hit a stride again,” he said. “I think Crow has done a good job of handling this and managing it. Hopefully, we can get the ball to him more and let him be who he can be.”

— A 65-yard punt return that set up Green Bay’s game-tying touchdown has special teams coordinator Chris Tabor itching to play this Sunday. “When there’s a sting in your belly from the previous week –  I’ll be honest with you, it’s Friday, but I can’t wait to get to Sunday to see if we fixed it,” he said, referencing that fateful return. “I will be honest with you, that is what is driving me right now.”​

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