The Browns had two key players back on the field Wednesday for their first practice of the week.
Left tackle Greg Robinson cleared the NFL's concussion protocol and was back with the team in full capacity. Defensive back Eric Murray was on the field for the first time since he underwent knee surgery on an injury that has kept him off the field since Week 9.
Both would help right away for a Browns team that has dealt with injuries and other absences on both sides of the ball.
"That will be a big get," Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. "We need to continue to focus on our preparation with those two guys and see where we are at, at the end of the week."
Robinson was sidelined last week against the Steelers in a game that saw the Browns surrender five sacks, the most they've allowed since Week 8 against the Patriots. Robinson did not play in that game, either.
Murray brings plenty of versatility to the table in a secondary that's battled injuries and other issues at safety during the second half of the season. Murray was primarily playing as a nickel cornerback before his injury but could also give the Browns a boost at safety during the final quarter of the season.
-- Kitchens said DE Olivier Vernon came away from Sunday's game OK after playing just 12 snaps. Vernon had missed the previous three weeks with a knee injury he suffered at the end of Cleveland's Week 9 loss at Denver.
"Little sore but we will continue to see what he can do during the course of the week and continue moving forward with it," Kitchens said.
A close up look at the cleats and the foundations represented by our players for this years My Cause My Cleats campaign
-- TE David Njoku is "getting closer" to returning to the 53-man roster, Kitchens said.
Njoku, who injured his wrist Week 2 against the Jets, has logged two weeks of practice since he was designated to return from injured reserve. The Browns have until Dec. 11 to make a decision on whether to activate him or place him on season-ending injured reserve.
"David took nine or 10 weeks there where we just want to make sure he is ready to go, that is all, because there is no half-stepping it," Kitchens said. "Once you are at the game, from that spot, he has to play. You are limited on how many guys you can have at the game, so you need to make sure that he can do all of the things he needs to do, not just in one area, but all of the areas, especially in that position."
-- Kitchens acknowledged it was difficult to inform DE Chris Smith of his release Tuesday but stressed Smith would remain close to him and his teammates.
Smith dealt with a tragedy just days after the season opener when his girlfriend, Petara Cordero, was struck and killed by a car on a Cleveland Interstate.
"Chris has got a lot of people that he is close with, within the organization. Chris is a good person," Kitchens said. "I still remember the morning that it all happened. I was at his house and we talked and some of those conversations that you have with a person builds your identity as a relationship and it is very difficult any time you release a player that is the type of person that Chris is. He is certainly a good person.
"Our football relationship ended, that does not mean our personal relationship. From my standpoint, his teammates and this organization, we will always be there to support Chris."