Initially, David Njoku didn’t want to undergo surgery on his injured wrist if it wasn’t necessary. But as the days crawled, and crawled and crawled by, Njoku had a change of heart.
An admittedly impatient person, Njoku wanted the fastest path to the field, and that meant deciding on surgery after consulting with his family.
“When I want something, I want it right now,” Njoku said. “Without surgery, it looked like it was going to make me wait a little bit.”
Njoku’s wait ended Wednesday when he was designated to return from injured reserve. Because he’s already missed eight games, Njoku could return as soon as Sunday for Cleveland’s game against the Dolphins. If that doesn’t happen, he has a 21-day window, which began Wednesday, for the Browns to make a decision whether to activate him to the 53-man roster or put him on season-ending injured reserve.
Njoku had no restrictions at Wednesday’s practice, though quarterback Baker Mayfield noted he wasn’t out there for every single snap. It will take more than one practice to gauge whether Njoku is ready to play in a game as quickly as Sunday.
“He is getting more healthy so from that standpoint, that is all I know,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “I do not know what kind of condition he is in. I do not know where he is at mentally. Sometimes you just have to put them out there and see how they do.”
Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Dolphins Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey
Njoku hasn’t seen the field since the first quarter of Cleveland’s Week 2 win over the Jets. He was upended as he leapt for a pass and landed awkwardly enough to not only injure his wrist, but also suffer a concussion.
It was a brutal play with brutal consequences, but Njoku doesn’t plan to play scared whenever he’s able to return.
“You can’t be doing things all cautious, especially on the football field,” Njoku said. “You’ve got to do everything the way you know how to do it and not second-guess anything.”
Njoku had four catches for 37 yards and a touchdown before the injury. He was coming off his best season as a pro, when he had 56 receptions for 639 yards and four touchdowns.
With his height and leaping ability, Njoku has the capability to uplift a Browns offense that has labored inside the 20-yard line.
“Obviously, David is great for us in the red zone,” Mayfield said. “He had an early touchdown this year before he got hurt. He is a big part of what our offense was so we are excited to get him back.”
A few more days will have to pass before it’s determined whether or not that return will occur Sunday.
“I just have to control what I can control,” Njoku said. “I have to show the coaches that I know what I am doing, first and foremost, and I can do it to a high speed and to my greatest ability. Just keep working on what I can improve.”