Hue Jackson says he nearly fell out of his chair Wednesday evening when he learned rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman broke his hand.
No, the Browns first-year head coach wasn't taken aback by the injury itself but rather the fact Coleman, the first-round draft pick from Baylor who'll miss four to six weeks, played through it before realizing something was wrong after practice. [
"I mean, the guy, he's tough. He practiced and that's what was amazing. I probably was the most surprised when our medical staff came up to tell me," Jackson said. "I told him, 'You have to be kidding me,' because the guy practiced the whole practice. Again, these things happen, but we're not going to all of a sudden slow down, they're not going to cancel games or postpone games or anything like that. Miami's saying come on down. We have to go play."
That mindset is something Jackson has stressed as the Browns march forward past mounting injuries over the past two weeks. They'll travel to Miami without the services of Coleman, quarterbacks Robert Griffin III (shoulder) and Josh McCown (shoulder), center Cameron Erving (bruised chest/lung) and defensive end Carl Nassib (hand).
But Jackson has approached the situation with relentless positivity, playing down such setbacks as more or less part of playing football in the NFL.
"I keep telling you guys I'm not blinking. I think you guys know me. I'm never going to do that. This football team and this organization depends on me to have a positive outlook about it all and I do because I've seen this before, we all have," he said.
"When you're changing things and you're trying to come from where we've been, these are the things that you have to go through. That saying 'Without struggle there would be no progress.' Well, we are struggling, but we are going to get some progress here pretty soon. I promise you that."
The silver lining
Part of Jackson's optimism is tied to the fact the Browns expect Coleman and others to return to the field sooner rather than later. Injuries, he said, don't faze him much.
"Seen it before. Been through it before," he said. "The fun part, well I shouldn't say that. There's nothing fun about that, but at the same time, I think we are going to get a lot of these guys back at some point," Jackson said.
"It would be different if I felt like they were out for the year. They're not. These guys are going to come back and hopefully come back and hit the ground running where they were. We hate it, but these things do happen from time to time."
The Browns will also keep Coleman, who caught five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns against the Ravens last week, involved in as many ways as possible.
"He's very frustrated. I'll be the first to tell you that. He likes to play and I don't think Corey has ever had a broken bone in his body. This is new to him, but at the same time, this is an opportunity for him to grow in a lot of different areas that pertains to football and conditioning, learning more about nutrition and all the other parts of this deal called pro football," Jackson said.
"We're not going to let anything slide that way. I think he's going to keep growing and keep getting better in a bunch of other areas while he heals up and then hopefully, that will propel him on for the rest of the season."
Sooner than later
Speaking of getting guys back on the field, Jackson said the Browns hope to have Nassib, who had hand surgery Wednesday, back in the not-so-distant future.
"The surgery went great. Some guys, as you guys know and ladies know, heal faster than others," he said.
"Carl is one of those guys who is going to do everything he needs to do to get back out there as fast as he can. We hope to have him back shortly. What that time table is, there is no exact day or exact time, but we hope to get him back sooner rather than later."
Nassib, the third-round draft pick and 2015 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, earned a starting job after an impressive outing against the Eagles in Week 1.
No such thing as too prepared**
As Browns rookie quarterback Cody Kessler continues to prepare for his first NFL start, Jackson playfully said the team has had to kick the USC standout out of the building because he spends too much time there watching film.
To be sure, Jackson has been encouraged by the third-round draft pick's willingness to get ready for Sunday and shrugged off the notion of whether or not Kessler could "over-prepare" for the Dolphins.
"I don't think you can ever be too prepared. I think you have to work up to and through the game. That is part of playing quarterback in the National Football League. There is a time to exhale a little bit, and I think he will take that," he said.
"We have a plane flight down there so after that, I hope that he is still thinking about what we have to get done. No, I don't think he will over-prepare."
Jackson has stressed that Kessler, who is the third starting quarterback in as many weeks after injuries to Griffin and McCown, is one of 11 pieces on offense.
"I think he will do the best job that he can and then it is our job as offensive coaches, our defensive football team, our whole team is to help him be the best he can be. It is not just him," Jackson said.
"It is the whole team. We all have a part in this with him and he has to go out and do his part and everybody else has to do their part."
'Trial by fire'
Without Coleman in the lineup, veteran receiver Andrew Hawkins knows he and others such as Terrelle Pryor and a handful of rookie pass catchers are going to have to step up against the Dolphins on Sunday.
"This is kind of how you mature, you go through situations like this. All of the rookies — Corey included — I think the Browns are in really good hands going forward with this receiving corps. The only thing a rookie doesn't have is experience," he said.
"So this kind of opens the doors for those guys and other guys to get reps and show what they have and kind of trial by fire."
Of those youngsters, rookies Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis could see their first significant action in an NFL game.
"They brought me in here for a reason and that was to showcase what I can do on the field and obviously if somebody goes down it's my turn to come in," Higgins said.
Louis added: "I've been preparing every week like I'm the starter. You never know what can happen. It's unfortunate Corey got hurt, but sometimes things like that happen."