Browns QB Deshaun Watson stood at the podium and was silent for a moment.
He was processing a question on losing RB Nick Chubb about 45 seconds into the second quarter to a knee injury on Monday night and watching him being carted off the field. It was a difficult moment for Watson to talk about.
"Tough," Watson said with a small crack of emotion in his voice. "Send all my prayers to him. I mean, at that moment, it was tough. Once we saw the replay and exactly what happened, just a lot of flashbacks to the previous one he had in college. Yeah, it was tough, honestly."
Head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed following the Browns 26-22 loss to the Steelers on Monday that Chubb sustained a significant knee injury. Stefanski anticipates Chubb to be out for the remainder of the season. Stefanski did not know specifics without imaging of the details of his injury but said that they would see Chubb soon.
The Browns clarified that Chubb was taken to a local hospital in Pittsburgh on Monday night, but that he was headed back to Cleveland following the game.
"We feel for the person," Stefanski said. "He's a great football player, as we know, but he's an even better person. We will support him every step along the way."
The four-time Pro Bowler had a strong start to Monday's game, as he rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries before the injury.
Losing Chubb is a significant hit to the Browns, and not just for his dominance in the run game; more so for who he is as a person. He is well-respected among his teammates and the Browns coaching staff. He's also been described as the heart and soul of the Browns.
The somber tone permeated through the locker room and at the podium as his teammates processed and felt the emotions of Chubb's injury.
"It f---ing hurts," DE Myles Garret said. "That's our brother. That's my brother, been together for a long time. It's a blow for the whole team. We don't want his injury to be in vain. We gotta push on. That's what he would want us to do, and if he had any choice in the matter, that's what he would do. So, just got to continue to fight and use it as motivation."
While the Browns process the blow to their team, Stefanski said he wants to pass the message along of "What would Nick say in these situations?" Chubb's nature as a team leader and of not backing down from situations or holding an attitude of "woe is me" is what Stefanski wants the rest of his team to emulate.
Garrett sees how Chubb is the embodiment of what the Browns are as a team and an organization. While Chubb is a man of few words, he puts in the work and has level of integrity to the Browns that Garrett wants them as a team to exemplify for him.
Watson wants the Browns to do the same.
He believes guys like RB Jerome Ford and Pierre Strong Jr. will step up and take on the challenge in the run game moving forward this season but knows that it won't just come from their running backs. It's also part of his job as the quarterback and a leader to help as well. Filling the hole left with Chubb's absence for the remainder of the season will be a team effort.
"We're so used to seeing Chubb, he's the one outside of me rallying everybody, keeping everybody going," Watson said. "And you can kind of feel that throughout games, just kind of the ups and downs. But usually, he's the one in the huddle talking to everyone. But having that piece gone, it was tough."
"I know he don't have a C on his jersey, but he's a captain," Watson continued. "He's a leader. He's the definition of this team, of this city, of this organization."