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Need to Know: JC Tretter optimistic he'll play despite ankle injury

Browns center JC Tretter hasn't been able to practice this week because of a high-ankle sprain but he's optimistic he'll play this weekend in Tampa.

"I feel confident going out there tomorrow and running around. We will tape it up and we will see what it feels like, and we will make a good decision," Tretter said Thursday as the Browns prepare for a road game against the Buccaneers. "I still feel confident in playing on Sunday. I played with it during the game for the rest of it and it feels better than it did at that point."

Tretter suffered the injury relatively early on in Sunday's loss to the Chargers but played through it. He has started 22 of 22 games since signing with the team as a free agent two years ago. 

Tretter, who was wearing a protective walking boot inside the team's locker room, said his absence from practice has been part of a plan to get him healthy enough for game day. 

"There is only so much time during the week to kind of get right and get ready for the next game. The plan was to give myself and give me the most amount of time to get healthy as possible," he said. "I probably will be wearing the boot for a while. Just trying to get as protected as possible and not get any wear and tear on it." 

— If Tretter can't go, it means rookie Austin Corbett will make his first career start. The 33rd overall pick in the NFL Draft, Corbett has played sparingly this season, but the Browns say they have confidence in the former Nevada standout. 

"He has done a good job. It has been business as usual in practice. I know that the game is a little different when the other team's guys are really going after you in a little different manner," head coach Hue Jackson said. 

"He has handled it really well this week and that was good to see, but he has been coming on that way. Every week, we have continued to push him like that. I think that he has accepted that challenge. I think that if he has to play, he will go out and play well."

— With middle linebacker Joe Schobert week to week because of a hamstring injury, veteran Christian Kirksey will move inside from the WILL spot to fill that void. Kirksey played the MIKE in 2016 and led the team with 148 tackles. "Linebacker is linebacker if you're playing inside or outside," he said. "In the 4-3 you are still in the box regardless if it is classified as an outside linebacker, so it is all the same to me."

— Down two of their top three cornerbacks, the Browns' depth in the secondary will get tested against the league's top passing attack. Leading the charge will be cornerback T.J. Carrie, who's set to make his first start with the team while replacing E.J. Gaines (concussion). "You have to prepare yourself, like I said, as a starter," he said. "It will be a little bit of an adjustment but we'll make it work." Gaines entered the concussion protocol Thursday, meaning Carrie will move from the nickel spot to the team's second corner opposite of star rookie Denzel Ward. Cleveland, of course, is still without Terrance Mitchell (wrist). 

— Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield described last week's loss as the worst of his entire football career. Mayfield, who was under pressure all afternoon, completed less than half of his passes for 238 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said the youngster and No. 1 pick learned a valuable lesson throughout it. 

"He's in the process of learning that No. 1, at this level, guys are not going to be wide open ever. It is going to be the process of putting the ball into tight places and knowing when it is too tight," he said. 

"I think that was a big-time game. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of us, as a team, of growing and learning. Learning what this is all about. By no means am I saying that the reason we had a bad performance is all on Baker, but he was a part of it, along with the entire group."

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