Jadeveon Clowney is a step closer toward returning to the Browns' defensive line after missing the last game with a concussion.
Clowney was back at practice Wednesday and is feeling better, head coach Kevin Stefanski said. That puts him on track to start Sunday against the Commanders in a game the Browns still believe is important despite the playoffs now out of the picture. Clowney suffered his concussion in Week 15 against the Ravens.
"I expect him to practice, so he's getting better," Stefanski said.
Clowney missed his fourth game of the season last week but could return to play the final two games and help the Browns defense finish the season with some consistency — they've held opponents to 23 or less points in the last five games.
Clowney has tallied two sacks this season but has still been disruptive with the extra attention he attracts off the edge. He has three tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and one pass breakup, and his 75.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus ranks 28th among edge rushers in the league this year.
Check out the best photos from the Browns game against the Saints by the Browns photo team
The Browns are out of the playoff hunt, but they know they can't afford to take things easy in their final two weeks of the season.
The last two games are still important for the Browns, who will look to match their 2022 record from a year ago at 8-9 and build some momentum for the next season. Doing so likely means improved play from QB Deshaun Watson and the offense and continued consistency from the defense, which has distanced itself from a poor first half of the season and has held opponents to 23 or less points in the last five games.
Even with no playoffs, there's still plenty to play for — and prove for next season. TE David Njoku understands that and said it best when it comes to making sure others grasp the importance of the games, too.
"This is a big test to see who loves this game as much as they say they do," he said. "I know me, I know the tight end group, we're going to give it our all. The whole team will. I have no doubt we're going to put our best foot forward and give the Commanders hell."
Browns won't rest players
RB Nick Chubb still plans to play the last two games of the season despite battling through a foot injury last week. When asked if there was any consideration about not playing with the playoffs out of reach, Chubb said "not at all."
Head coach Kevin Stefanski also said the Browns don't plan to rest any of their starters but didn't rule out younger players seeing more reps. The focus is still on finding a way to win games.
"We will make decisions on players," Stefanski said. "Guys may get a couple more opportunities. Bottom line is we are going to do everything we can to try to win this game. That is really where our focus is. If a young guy warrants getting some extra plays, he might."
Wills on injury report
OT Jedrick Wills Jr. (back) was the lone player who missed Wednesday's practice due to injury.
"We're just working through something," Stefanski said. "We will see how the week goes and see how the next couple of days go."