Myles Garrett's return to the practice field this week was a welcomed sight, but the Browns aren't certain if the rookie defensive end and first-overall pick will make his regular season debut this weekend.
"He moved around well, did some things today," head coach Hue Jackson said Friday, "but again, we're going to huddle with the medical team and the football staff and see what's best."
Garrett, who is questionable for Sunday's game against the Bengals, has yet to play this season after suffering a high ankle sprain days before the season opener. And though the former Texas A&M star would offer a "jolt" to Cleveland's pass rush, the Browns won't rush him back onto the field.
"I want to make sure that we cross all the T's and dot all the I's and talk to the medical staff about what the expectation would be of him and what we're going to do because he's a huge piece of our organization and our future," Jackson said. "We want to be cautious but smart as we go through it."
— Like Garrett, third-year defensive lineman Danny Shelton (calf) is also questionable for Sunday's game against Cincinnati. "Danny is a tough guy and loves to be out there," Jackson said, "so if there is any way possible he can be, he will be." Shelton, a first-round pick in 2015, has started 34 of 35 games since being drafted by Cleveland.
— Linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. will miss his second-straight game with a concussion. Without the Pro Bowl linebacker, backup James Burgess Jr. — who had three tackles and a forced fumble last weekend — will be called upon to step up again.
— After a disappointing 0-3 start, the Browns host back-to-back games against the Bengals and Jets, who have also struggled through the first month of the season. A win this weekend, Jackson said, "validates the work" the group has accomplished in the offseason.
"It would mean a ton to our football team and our organization and the city and our fans. Our fans coming to the game, they are coming to watch us win," he said, "so I think it would be tremendous for our football team to go win this football game."
— In his first four NFL regular season games, rookie DeShone Kizer will face all three of Cleveland's AFC North rivals. And though that has made for some tough Sunday afternoons, Jackson said the youngster will be better for it long-term. "It shows him where he is and it really gives us an evaluation of where he is," he said.
"Hopefully, he's going to be a quarterback here for a long time, so he's learning the different schemes that he is going to face in his career and you start to understand the players who you have to play against and the players you have to defeat and I think that is a bonus if you can do it, so here it is."
— Duke Johnson Jr. has been the Browns' biggest playmaker through three games, totaling 17 touches (six runs, 11 catches) for 204 yards and a touchdown in three games. "He's on a mission to prove to everyone he's a very talented football player," run game coordinator and running backs coach Kirby Wilson said. "He's really and practicing at a high level right now."
Against the Colts last weekend, he had eight touches for 104 yards and a shifty 19-yard touchdown run he punctuated by leaping into the end zone. "I think he's such a great competitor and he sees a situation where we need him to step up," Wilson said. "He's a man thats wearing many hats right now for this offense."
— Rookie Jabrill Peppers has been limited as a punt/kick returner through three games. Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor stressed patience and confidence in the dynamic player. "He's going to keep getting better," he said. "I know he hasn't had opportunities in the last couple of games, but his time is going to come."