Ever since March, when the Browns were forced out of their facility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has rolled with the punches and not made excuses.
That was once again the case Wednesday in the wake of the news that three players — T Jack Conklin, LS Charley Hughlett and K Cody Parkey — would join T Chris Hubbard and FB Andy Janovich on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Though some of the players could be back in time for Sunday's game against the Eagles, the Browns hit the practice fields Wednesday with a mindset to be ready to play without all five if necessary.
"Everybody else will be (practicing)," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said, "so expect a full group working out there, which will be good."
Without Conklin and Hubbard, the Browns will lean on veteran Kendall Lamm at right tackle throughout practice this week. He'll be the starter if both players are unavailable, Stefanski said, and the Browns are confident he would fill the void nicely.
"Kendall works extremely hard. He fits the bill of the guys that we are looking for," Stefanski said. "He does a great job at practice and I see him a lot because he gets a ton of reps on the scout team, so he is blocking Myles Garrett many times, Olivier Vernon so he gets great work during the week. Very conscientious person, player, he studies real hard. So, should he be the guy, he will be ready to go."
Without Janovich, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday, the Browns could look at a variety of options to fill his spot, including more snaps for a tight end such as Stephen Carlson, additional opportunities for the team's running backs or a potential elevation of Johnny Stanton from the practice squad.
Janovich, whom the Browns acquired in a trade in March, plays roughly 10-20 offensive snaps per game and is a key special teams player.
And then there's the tricky dynamic of practicing without your starting kicker and long snapper. The Browns have a backup plan at kicker with Matt McCrane, who is on the practice squad, and will rely on a handful of others internally to handle the long snapping — something Hughlett has done without missing a game for the Browns since 2014.
Stefanski said LB Mack Wilson was among the team's options to fill in for Hughlett if necessary.
"Many guys want to be a long snapper. But we have a few guys that already practice it," Stefanski said. "So, we will just make sure that we have a plan if we are without Charley."
Chubb, who last saw the field Week 4 in Dallas, resumed his normal workload and led the Browns with 126 yards on 19 carries. Kareem Hunt, who filled in admirably as the Browns' top running back while Chubb was sidelined, got tougher to tackle as the game unfolded and finished with 104 yards.
Garrett stayed home Wednesday because of an illness, Stefanski said. Garrett has not been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
"It's 2020, I don't think you rule out anything," Stefanski said. "Obviously, he is not going on the COVID list. He is sick and we will make sure that we again follow all the protocols.
"You know how it is when guys are sick. It is not like the old days where you say, 'All right, come on in later in the day.' You can't do that."
Stefanski said his confidence with the Browns' passing game hasn't wavered after the past two games, which were heavily affected by unpleasant weather conditions.
QB Baker Mayfield has thrown for just 254 yards while completing two passes for 20 or more yards over the past two games. It's the first two-game stretch of Mayfield's career in which he didn't throw a touchdown pass in consecutive games.
Stefanski said Sunday the conditions were even worse than the previous game. It should also be noted the quarterbacks Cleveland faced during this stretch amassed a combined 271 passing yards.
Stefanski pointed back to Week 7, when Mayfield was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for close to 300 yards and five touchdowns, as a reason to not be too concerned by the past two games.
"I have tremendous confidence in our group, and I think you have to be able to play the game that is called for," Stefanski said. "That is kind of what we have done last week, certainly a couple weeks ago it was to a lesser extent.
"There have been moments where we are going to make sure we do whatever it takes to score points and I have tremendous confidence in our run and pass game."