The Browns offensive linemen heard a loud pop and a scream. When they turned around, their position coach was on the ground and in pain.
“It wasn’t pretty,” right guard Kevin Zeitler said. “I do not know what happened but it did not look pretty.”
Zeitler is describing what he saw when Bob Wylie broke his ankle between drills Thursday. Wylie had surgery Thursday evening, and the “Hard Knocks” star spoke with his players via Joel Bitonio’s speakerphone Friday morning.
Bitonio said Wylie was in good spirits; Zeitler said Wylie told the guys he’d be on the sideline for Sunday’s game, though Bitonio said that seems unlikely. And the linemen postponed their gift exchange (scheduled for Friday) so Wylie could attend when he’s able.
Assistant offensive line coach Mark Hutson and offensive quality control coach Brian Braswell are teaming up to coach the linemen in Wylie’s absence, but there’s no replacing the Santa Claus of Berea’s presence.
“(Wylie) is the best,” Bitonio said. “I was saying it the other day: he is seriously one of the best humans that I know. He gives back all of the time. He cares about us as people. He does a good job coaching us, as well. It was tough to see him go down for sure.”
—Cincinnati took issue with the trash talk from the Browns leading up to the first Browns-Bengals matchup. And according to Jabrill Peppers, the Cincinnati players told the Browns they had no room to talk because, well, “you’re the Browns.”
The Browns heard it all throughout the 2017 season, but to Peppers, the Week 12 incident in Cincinnati was the most disrespectful moment he experienced.
“Stuff like that, that sticks with you,” Peppers said. “These guys really don't respect us as an organization.”
Then the Browns smacked the Bengals, 35-20. The Bengals are short-handed this week; the Browns are heavy favorites. But Peppers doesn’t forget the pre-game disrespect from the first meeting. And for that reason, he believes the Browns will maintain their focus from the first meeting. Well, that plus the satisfaction of keeping the Bengals in the AFC North basement.
“Look where we sit, look where they sit,” Peppers said. “I think we’re gonna come out there with the same type of tenacity.”
— Cleveland fans answered Baker Mayfield’s challenge by buying every available ticket for Sunday’s game.
The Browns expect one of the loudest crowds in years to fill the stands. To prepare for the noise, defensive coaches double-checked aspects of Joe Schobert’s helmet communication technology to ensure Schobert will hear his coaches Sunday. And even that might not be enough.
“In some of the dominant places I have been before, the helmet communication is working and (the players) still can’t hear you because of the home field advantage,” coach Gregg Williams said. “When they can’t hear us, the offense can’t hear either – the Bengals offensive guys can’t hear the play, either. It is pretty tough to do that and that is why you want home field advantage. I can’t wait to hear (the fans).”
— DB Jabrill Peppers (neck), DT Larry Ogunjobi (biceps), C JC Tretter (ankle), DB Phillip Gaines (knee), LB Tanner Vallejo and OL Austin Corbett (foot) are questionable for Sunday’s game.