Cleveland Browns lineup changes and injury report
- On Friday, the Cleveland Browns officially placed Alex Mack on the injured reserve list. The Pro Bowl center had successful surgery in North Carolina and is expected to make a full recovery in time for the beginning of the 2015 season. Offensive lineman Ryan Seymour has been added to the active roster in Mack's place.
- John Greco will get the start at center, meaning Paul McQuistan gets the nod at right guard. Vinston Painter is now the next man up off the bench in case of other injuries. Painter can play guard and tackle.
- Tashaun Gipson (thigh bruise) is listed as questionable but he told reporters in the locker room he expects to play. As we noted yesterday, if Gipson is unable to go, both Jordan Poyer and Jim Leonhard would share the free safety spot.
- Ahtyba Rubin is also listed as questionable. The beefy 330-pounder missed last week's game against the Steelers but Ishmaa'ily Kitchen filled in admirably (six tackles). The Browns still feel peachy about their depth on the defensive line.
- Rookie cornerback K'Waun Williams (concussion) and defensive lineman Billy Winn have been ruled out for Sunday's game. Williams has been playing at an extremely high level the past two weeks but was knocked to the turf by accident from teammate Tashaun Gipson in the third quarter last week. This is the second straight game Winn has missed.
- For the Jaguars, starting running back Toby Gerhart has been ruled out with a foot injury. He may only have 48 carries for 148 yards rushing on the season, but Gerhart's a workhorse and was the starter for Jacksonville.
Justin Gilbert has a strong week of practice
- Because of the Williams injury we specified earlier in the story, Justin Gilbert is going to see some significant playing time against the Jaguars. In nickel situations, Gilbert will line up as the outside cornerback while Buster Skrine will line up on the inside.
- All indications are that Gilbert has been bringing the heat in practice, and coach Mike Pettine is optimistic his raised awareness will transfer on the field.
- "He's had a good week. We'll see. It's got to show up," said Pettine. "When you practice well, you hope that it carries over. You want guys to get in those habits of practicing well and having it pay off on game day. He's got a good bounce in his step, and it looks like he's ready to go."
- "There's been a couple of plays I could've made on the ball, where I didn't get my hand around, or I didn't finish on the play," said Gilbert, critiquing his season so far. "I'm getting better. I just have to show it."
John Hughes ready for his expanded role
- When Tuesday's depth chart was released, John Hughes had a little smile on his face. With injuries to Phil Taylor and Armonty Bryant, the third-year pro from Cincinnati is now listed as the Browns starting left defensive end.
- "I just love getting out there and playing," said Hughes. "When I can contribute to the team, and help win, that's really all I want."
- Hughes did contribute in a big way against the Steelers. His deflection on a third quarter Ben Roethlisberger pass ended up in the outstretched arms of Buster Skrine, and it was the final nail in the coffin for Pittsburgh.
- Hughes says this game against Jacksonville is much tougher than you would think. Under rookie quarterback Blake Bortles, the Jaguars offense is still trying to find their identity, which means nothing is really off the table.
Duke Johnson Jr. patiently waiting his turn and learning a ton
- Manziel had his customary Friday meeting with the media in the locker room. At the quarterback position, it's virtually impossible in the NFL for players to share snaps. For other positions, there's ways to get rookies in periodically. Manziel doesn't mind watching and learning, and he knows better than anyone: Brian Hoyer is one play away from an injury at any time.
- "For me, my approach is I need to be ready," said Manziel. "I'm continuing to get better every day. My strategy, my mindset really hasn't changed much throughout this year – stay on top of my stuff and make sure I'm ready, because you never really know. It's a whacky league. You never know when you could be thrust in there."
- The next two weeks the Browns are slated to face rookie quarterbacks Bortles and Derek Carr of the Raiders. Manziel was asked if it's painful to watch members of the 2014 draft class start while he watches from the sidelines.
- "I'm happy for those guys," said Manziel. "There obviously getting a chance to come in early and contribute to their teams and that's the situation there in. That could've been my situation here; so far that's not the case. I know coach Pettine is always talking about the "next-man-up" and we've had a lot of that going on in other positions. That counts for my position, as well."
- Manziel said he's been soaking in how Brian Hoyer goes through his daily routine and how he works his tail off in practice.
- "He's playing very, very well and he does everything the right way," Manziel said. "For me getting a chance to sit back and watch this – for however long it may be – I think it's beneficial for me."