Defensive backs Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Jabrill Peppers didn’t practice Wednesday, but Hue Jackson is hopeful at least one will be ready for Sunday’s game against the Packers.
The Browns coach said he hopes to have Peppers and defensive tackle Danny Shelton (chest/ribs) back on the field before the end of the week. Boddy-Calhoun, meanwhile, is “a little sore” and “has some things going on.”
“We will know more about him as the week goes on, as well,” Jackson said.
Peppers, who missed two games earlier this season with a toe injury, suffered his injury during the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Chargers. Undrafted rookie Kai Nacua filled his spot for the final 14 snaps.
If Boddy-Calhoun can’t play, Mike Jordan likely would see an increase in playing time. Jordan saw extensive snaps during veteran Jason McCourty’s two-game absence earlier this season.
-- Jackson likes the direction tight end David Njoku is heading during the final part of his rookie season, and much of his opinion derives from how the athletic pass-catcher has improved as a blocker.
Njoku, the former first-round pick, has seen his snaps increase in recent weeks. On many of those plays, he’s simply staying home and trying to pave the way for Cleveland’s running backs.
“He has found out guys are bigger than him, as tall as he is, weigh more than he does and some of them are just as athletic as he is. He has had to learn how to fight that,” Jackson said. “Sometimes he is giving away 40 pounds and sometimes 50 pounds, and he has had to learn different techniques on how to block those guys and sometimes just get a stalemate. It is not about knocking them off the ball if you can just get a stalemate. That has been tough because that is not something that he has had to do.
“In order to play up here in the National Football League and in our system, it is something we require. That is a skill that we are still developing with him.”
Njoku is second on the team with 28 catches and third with 332 receiving yards. His four touchdowns are the most on the team and the most ever by a Browns rookie tight end.
“I am not really too focused on that to be honest,” Njoku said. “I know when I was told that, I was happy for a little bit and obviously, then focusing back on what we have to do.”
-- Jackson said the lack of production last week from Cleveland’s wide receivers not named Josh Gordon fell on “a little bit of everybody.”
Gordon led the team with four catches for 85 yards. Kenny Britt caught two passes for 10 yards while the rest of Cleveland’s receivers, a group that included Corey Coleman, Ricardo Louis and Rashard Higgins, did not catch a pass.
Njoku and tight end Seth DeValve combined for six catches, 107 yards and a touchdown.
“When they are open in certain situations versus certain coverages, we have to get them the ball. They have to also make sure that they do get open,” Jackson said. “I know we would love to see more production from them because they play a lot. At the same time, teams will take those things away and the quarterback has to make sure that we are still progressing down the field so he has to get the ball in other people’s hands.”