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News & Notes: Browns hopeful Ronnie Harrison can return by end of season

3rd-year strong safety was placed on injured reserve Tuesday

S Ronnie Harrison Jr. is guaranteed to miss the next three games but he hasn't been ruled out for the season.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Wednesday he hoped to see Harrison, who injured his shoulder in Sunday's win over the Jaguars, back on the field before the end of the regular season.

Harrison suffered the injury on the very first play of the game, which pitted him against the team that traded him to Cleveland shortly before the start of the season. Harrison didn't suffer a fracture and won't require surgery, Stefanski said.

"Ronnie is doing a nice job, so I am disappointed for him," Stefanski said. "I felt bad for Ronnie, especially playing against his former team. But he has given us a bunch of good reps. He has impacted the game. He has made big plays. So without him somebody is going to have to step up and make those plays and we are confident in the guys we have."

Harrison was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, guaranteeing he will, at the minimum, miss Sunday's game against the Titans, Week 14's Monday Night Football showdown with the Ravens and the Browns' Week 15 game against the New York Giants. He'd be eligible to return as soon as Week 16, when the Browns face the New York Jets, but Stefanski said he didn't have a specific timeframe for Harrison's recovery.

Without Harrison in Jacksonville, the Browns relied heavily on Karl Joseph, who played every snap in Harrison's absence. Stefanski said the team would work through its plan at safety throughout the week heading into Sunday's game at Tennessee.

"I have a ton of confidence in really all of those guys," Stefanski said. "I really do."

Working From Home

The Browns were delayed a bit in their return to the team facility Wednesday because of a staff member's positive COVID-19 test. It didn't throw too much of a wrench into the Browns' plans, though, because the morning was already filled with virtual meetings.

Cleveland was set to practice at a slightly later time in the afternoon but was able to do so as a full team — unlike last week, when it split up the offense and defense on one day and completely held out the defense on another. Snowy conditions forced the team to use its indoor facility.

"We have been virtual with the players for a while now so it really was not that disruptive of our morning," Stefanski said. "That is kind of what the guys are used to."

Check out the best photos from the Browns win over the Jaguars yesterday by the Browns photo team

Injury Updates

Stefanski said CB Denzel Ward (calf) would be the only player unable to practice Wednesday because of an injury. Ward hasn't seen the field since the Browns' Week 11 win over the Eagles.

The Browns still have three players — LB Sione Takitaki, DE Porter Gustin and DE Joe Jackson — on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Stefanski said he was unsure if any of the three would be back in time for Sunday's game.

Always Planning

Stefanski said he and his offensive coaches spent the previous two days examining how the Browns can be better on fourth down, short-yardage situations.

The Browns came up short on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter against the Jaguars and opened the door to a potential Jacksonville comeback. The previous week against the Eagles, the Browns couldn't crack the goal line from the 1-yard line on fourth down.

On the season, Cleveland is 6-of-17 on fourth downs, a total that includes a third-quarter conversion in Jacksonville on Sunday.

"We are not far removed from our bye week self-scout where we have already done that. So we kind of did it again based on the last few games we have played," Stefanski said. "The answer is always complicated in that some of it is scheme related, some of it was you got unlucky with a look you were hoping for. 

"We are just going to double down on making sure we put the guys in position to succeed and that scheme may vary week to week."

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