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Jack Conklin excited to help Browns offense get close to full strength

The veteran RT is expected to return Sunday in Baltimore

Myles Garrett could only laugh about T Jack Conklin's look at Friday's practice.

Flurries fell from the sky and temperatures plunged into the 20s as the Browns went through their final practice of the week at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Conklin, though, looked the same way he did when the Browns opened training camp in July. No uniform adjustments, no extra layers, no nothing.

"He's out here with no sleeves on and had shorts on," Garrett said. "He doesn't care." 

It's that same mindset and attitude that convinced Garrett that Conklin would be back as soon as possible from a scary-looking elbow injury. And, well, that's exactly what's going to happen, as Conklin is expected to be activated in time for Sunday's game in Baltimore, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said after Friday's practice.

The veteran right tackle will have missed just three games after dislocating his elbow in the Browns' Week 8 loss to the Steelers.

"If it's not something torn or something completely torn or snapped off the bone," Garrett said, "he's coming out here and practicing as hard as he can."

Check out exclusive photos from the practice fields at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus of the Browns preparing for their Week 12 game against the Baltimore Ravens

Conklin did just that starting Wednesday, when he was designated for return from injured reserve. After three practices, Stefanski saw more than enough to view Conklin as game-ready for Sunday's pivotal, primetime matchup with the Ravens. He'll be joined by RB Kareem Hunt, who similarly rejoined the team for Wednesday's practice after an extended absence, as the Browns offense will be as close to full strength as it's been since Week 1 in Kansas City.

"Excited to get back," Conklin said. "Anytime we can get all of our starters back and get our guys going, that is a plus. You get guys back that have not been playing, it just brings energy to the group, too, and confidence and stuff. 

"I am pumped to be back out there and ready to get rolling."

Conklin's injury was the latest in what's been a grueling season for Cleveland's offensive tackles, who have dealt with injuries every week since LT Jedrick Wills Jr. went down with an ankle injury in the first half of the season opener.

Wills' ankle injury didn't allow him to play a complete game until Week 7 and forced him to completely miss Weeks 5 and 6. Before his elbow injury, Conklin left the Browns' Week 5 loss to the Cardinals and was forced to miss Weeks 6 and 7. Versatile swing tackle Chris Hubbard, who entered the season as the backup to both players, suffered a season-ending triceps injury in the season opener. That left Blake Hance to serve as a super sub of sorts, filling in for Wills throughout the first half of the season and Conklin for the past three games.

Hance, who made the Browns' 53-man roster as an interior lineman, has done a commendable job, but there's no discounting the return of an All-Pro tackle like Conklin.

"We are getting healthy, which is a good thing for us down the stretch here," offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said. "Having Jack back will be just as important for us offensively. Blake has done a nice job of stepping in his place, but Jack is a very good player. Really excited to get both of those guys back."

Conklin admitted he was initially worried his injury would keep him sidelined for much longer than three games, saying matter-of-factly "when you are on the ground and your arm is facing the opposite direction, it is a little nerve-wracking." Once he realized it wasn't a season-ender, he attacked his rehab and positioned himself to return at a crucial point in the schedule.

"Happy to be back out here," Conklin said. "I feel good."

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