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News & Notes: Browns have options at cornerback with expected return of Kevin Johnson

Cleveland is set to return the veteran cornerback Sunday

The Browns still have some injury questions at cornerback, but they also have some options and contingencies.

There are two knowns heading into Sunday's game against the Washington Football Team. Greedy Williams will miss his third consecutive game and Kevin Johnson is poised to play in his first. The biggest unknown centers on Pro Bowler Denzel Ward, who is listed as questionable because of a groin injury. 

"We listed him as questionable and that is exactly what he is," Stefanski said. "Obviously, had something there with the groin. We have a few hours here to see how he does, and then we will make a determination before the game."

Johnson mostly played as a slot cornerback during training camp but he has experience on the outside. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski didn't rule out Johnson tapping into the latter in the event Ward can't play.

"Excited to have Kevin back," Stefanski said. "He has looked really good throughout the week, and then we just have to be mindful of this is his first football action. He has not played these last two games so we will monitor how he is doing, but he has had a nice week of practice."

During Johnson's absence, the Browns have relied on veteran Terrance Mitchell in Williams' spot and Tavierre Thomas in the slot. That could continue Sunday in the event Johnson has to slide to the outside in Ward's place.

Thomas, a special teams spark plug, has played more defensive snaps in the first two games than he did in the previous two seasons combined. Stefanski lauded him Friday for his efforts.

"He has done a nice job," Stefanski said. "He brings physicality to the position and does a nice job in the run game, on pressures and covering his guy. I am glad we have him because he is a versatile football player."

Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Washington Football Team

Captain Hodge

WR KhaDarel Hodge will be the Browns' game captain Sunday, following in the footsteps of LS Charley Hughlett (Ravens) and DT Larry Ogunjobi (Bengals).

"He does his job," Stefanski said. "He is always assignment sound, a great effort player, good speed and catches the balls as they come his way. He really fits our smart, tough type of football player that we are looking for from this team. His teammates really like him."

Progress Report

Offensive line coach Bill Callahan said he's liked what he's seen from rookie Jedrick Wills Jr. in his first two games at left tackle.

"He is progressing. I would not say it is perfect yet, but I think progress is more important than perfection right now," Callahan said. "Incrementally, he is getting better with the techniques that were thrown at him. I think the main thing right now is the week-to-week adaptation versus the elite pass rushers in the league. 

"You look at this week's challenge, that presents another set of techniques and obviously preparedness that you have to look at differently because all these rushers are different. It is a great challenge for Jedrick, as well as our team."

Washington's defensive line features five first-round picks, including the No. 2 selection in the 2020 Draft, Chase Young. The former Ohio State star leads the NFL with 2.5 sacks and will provide the latest challenge for Wills, who was selected eight spots later.

"We are ready in terms of what we are going to see," Callahan said. "We are anticipating that all of the rushers are going to be lined up on both our guards and our tackles so it just makes our preparation that much more intense. We really have to be really, really well prepared for all the different types of moves that they present."

Myles' Take

Myles Garrett won't be facing Young on the field Sunday but he had plenty of insight to offer on the NFL's next great pass rusher.

"He is 2.5 sacks deep already and that is a good pace for the first two," Garrett said. "When you are on a roll you want to stay on a roll so they are going to look to feed the hot hand in the young fella. So, he is going to go out there with a little chip on his shoulder. I like his game. I like how he gets after it. He has good timing off the ball and he has good hands and he is tenacious when he is going after the pass. He is definitely not a bad run defender. He is a pretty complete player and I like his game."

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