The Browns will head into their matchup Thursday against the Steelers without two of their defensive ends and one of their tight ends.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday that Pro Bowl DE Jadeveon Clowney will miss the Week 3 game due to an ankle injury. DE Chase Winovich, who had two tackles for a loss Sunday against the Jets, will also be out due to a hamstring injury and TE Jesse James will be out due to a bicep injury.
"(Clowney) will be out this week due to that injury," Stefanski said. "Chase Winovich has a hamstring injury. He will be out. Jesse James has a bicep injury. He will be out."
Clowney's absence will be a big hole to fill in Cleveland's defensive line after the ninth-year veteran opened the season with 1.5 sacks, two batted passes and a forced fumble. Without him and Winovich, the Browns will likely turn to rookie edge rushers Alex Wright and Isaiah Thomas to fill the other side of the D-line opposite Myles Garrett.
Wright, a third-round draft pick from UAB, totaled two pass breakups and two tackles in the first two games. Thomas, a seventh-round pick from Oklahoma, played nine snaps in his NFL debut in Week 2.
James' absence opens a hole at the third tight end position, where he was used primarily as a blocker. The Browns may look to elevate a tight end from their practice squad to fill the void behind David Njoku and Harrison Bryant with Miller Forristall and Zaire Mitchell-Paden, who were both with the team during training camp.
Forristall, a one-year veteran, played two games last season, and Mitchell-Paden is an undrafted rookie from FAU.
Check out photos of the Browns against the Jets in Week 2
Stefanski laments not voicing no-score order
Stefanski took full responsibility Monday for not issuing the offense to avoid the end zone — thus giving the Jets another possession — in the huddle one play before RB Nick Chubb scored a 12-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"I do want to be clear on this one," Stefanski said when asked if he told QB Jacoby Brissett to relay that message. "I absolutely could have told him that in that situation."
The Browns were already leading 24-17 at that point of the game and had a first down with 2:02 left on the game clock. The Jets were without a timeout, so the Browns might've had a chance to close the game with a few extra run plays or kneel downs, and if there was still time left, K Cade York could've added a short field goal to put the Browns up two scores and ensure there was little time left for the Jets.
Instead, Chubb ran to the end zone for another touchdown. The Jets got the ball back with 1:55 left, which was enough time for them to score two touchdowns and recover an onside kick to steal the win. Defensive breakdowns and poor special teams play — York also missed a crucial PAT after Chubb's touchdown — were among the biggest factors.
So was scoring a touchdown.
"In retrospect, you want to do anything you can to secure the win," Stefanski said. "That is something that's my responsibility to communicate to that huddle. Putting yourself up 14 points inside of two minutes, you should close out that game. Yes, I wish I had said that to Nick, and Nick would've done it, but it doesn't change the fact that we had plenty of opportunities to win that game."
The Browns have already reviewed the tape from Sunday's stunning 31-30 loss to the Jets and are ready to move on to Week 3.
They have to on such a short week — in four days, the Browns will be back at FirstEnergy Stadium against the Steelers, the shortest amount of time they'll have between games this season. Short weeks are usually more difficult for teams to digest as they look to cram a week's worth of preparation into just three days, but this is a rare instance in which it should actually benefit the Browns as they move past a rough loss.
"We have got to very, very quickly turn the page, make corrections and move on because in these short weeks, you just can't let the previous game linger," Stefanski said. "You really do have to move on. That's what we will do."
The Browns will hold a team meeting and walk-through practice Monday and will jump into a full day of work Tuesday. They'll wrap up their preparations Wednesday at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus and then jump right back into it Thursday night.