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Need to Know: Browns will miss Joe Schobert, ready for challenge of playing without him

Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams rounded up his side of the ball earlier this week to address life without middle linebacker Joe Schobert, who will be evaluated week-by-week because of a hamstring injury.

Williams said it's a lot like an offense losing its quarterback.

"I told the coaches this week that you have to coach better, have to play better, Joe Schobert cannot protect everybody — Joe Schobert protects everybody," he said of the third-year player from Wisconsin. "He protects me on game day. He protects the other coaches on game day because he knows it better than coaches do. It's been good this week." 

Schobert, who suffered the injury in Sunday's loss to the Chargers, is more or less the on-field conductor for Williams and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl last season. Without him, the Browns moved Christian Kirksey inside and will rotate a host of players at the WILL spot to mitigate the loss. 

While it's unclear when Schobert — who previously had yet to miss a snap this season — will return to action, Williams said he's keeping his pupil involved in as many ways possible, including as something of a "coach on the field." 

"He's done a great job with that. He's played every single snap in practice and every single snap in the meetings, he has played as if he is playing," Williams said.

"That keeps the mind sharp. He even gets a lot more credibility in the room right now when somebody else is having to try to do his job. We will be fine. We have guys that are doing a good job with that. We have had a good week of practice this week on taking over in his place."

— The Browns listed starting center JC Tretter as questionable for Sunday's game in Tampa, but both he and head coach Hue Jackson are optimistic the veteran will be able to play. Tretter, who's dealing with a high-ankle sprain, practiced Friday after missing the previous two sessions. 

"Very encouraging. I feel good that, just knowing JC, he's going to compete and go play," he said. "I feel good about having him out there today. He did some good things out there and practiced."

Tretter has started 22 of 22 games since signing with the team in free agency in 2017.

— After getting gashed for 246 rushing yards and three touchdowns by the Chargers, defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi said the group has focused on fundamentals this past week. "We just have make sure we tighten everything down," he said, "and set the edge so we can get to the ball to stop the run."

— In a wide receivers room ravaged by injuries and inexperience, the Browns are hoping newcomer Breshad Perriman can help a room already leaning on starters Jarvis Landry and rookie Antonio Callaway. "We have given him a role, and he has handled it pretty well. He seems like a real conscientious young man. It seems important to him," Jackson said. 

"He spent extra time with (wide receivers coach) Adam (Henry) and extra time with the offense, just making sure that he knows everything that he needs to do. I feel comfortable that if we need to put him out there, he will go out and do the job that we are asking him to do."

Perriman, drafted 26th overall in 2015 by the Baltimore Ravens, was waived in September. He has 43 catches for 576 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons.

— Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward will face off (again) against some of the NFL's top wide receivers in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. Ward, the fourth-overall pick from Ohio State, has been outstanding for the Browns thus far with three interceptions, a forced fumble and six pass breakups in six games. 
"If he's matched up against Mike at all, I trust that Denzel will go make those plays. He will compete as hard as he can," Jackson said. "I feel comfortable and confident that he will go and do his job to the best of his ability. It is a tall task to hold guys like that to no catches. These guys are throwing the football. If anybody has the right skillset to do it, it's him."

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