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David Njoku 'feeling better every day' from ankle injury, won't rule himself out yet vs. Bengals

Njoku has been off to one of the best starts of his six-year career


David Njoku isn't ready to rule himself out yet for a big Monday night matchup with the Bengals.

Njoku suffered a high ankle sprain last Sunday in the third quarter against the Ravens and did not return, although he still has a chance to suit up for Week 8.

"We'll see," Njoku said at his locker Thursday. "It's feeling better every day, so hopefully we can just see how it progresses."

Njoku was putting together another solid day against Baltimore with seven receptions on seven targets for 71 yards. He's been off to one of the best starts of his six-year career and is second on the Browns with 418 receiving yards and one touchdown on 34 catches. He's topped 70 yards four times this season, which is something he had only done twice in the previous three years.

He's also been a big contributor as a blocker, earning an 80.5 pass-block grade from Pro Football Focus on the season. His overall performance grade, 83.5 is tied with Mark Andrews for second among tight ends behind Travis Kelce. 

"Whatever they ask me to do, I try to do to the best of my ability," Njoku said.

Check out the best photos from the Browns game against the Ravens by the Browns photo team

If Njoku isn't ready to go, the Browns will lean more on third-year veteran Harrison Bryant and possibly Miller Forristall and Zaire Mitchell-Paden, the two tight ends on the practice squad. Fifth-year veteran TE Pharaoh Brown is also on the active roster, but he left Sunday's game early with a concussion and also did not practice Thursday.

Njoku has confidence in the tight ends behind him to fill the gap.

"We have amazing athletes in Harrison, Pharaoh, Miller, Zaire," he said. "I'm not too worried about picking up the slack. I know they work hard every day and prepare as if they are Tight End (No.) 1, so I would expect them to pick up where I left off. I'm excited to see them play."

Head coach Kevin Stefanski said the Browns will still be able to put together the offensive game plan they need if Njoku and Brown are both out, too. 

"I think that is part of our challenge each week is who do you have available to you, and then put a gameplan together," Stefanski said. "With Pharaoh, his availability is unknown at this point with his concussion. Obviously, Harry is somebody who has played a ton of football for us. Had played really good football in the run game and pass game, so we're excited about him getting a little bit more of an opportunity. Then we have different ways that we can run our offense, but it is really incumbent upon us as a staff to put together a plan with the guys who are available to you."

The Browns hope the plan this week can include Njoku in it.

"He's been important to what we do, run game and pass game," Stefanski said. "He's a great player, but if he doesn't make it, next man up and find a way to run our offense."