Skip to main content

News & Notes

News & Notes: Browns turn to LB depth to fill in for injured Mack Wilson

Coach Kevin Stefanski said Wednesday he plans on splitting more reps to the depth players in the Browns' linebackers room after Mack Wilson left practice early Tuesday with a knee injury.

"I can go right down the roster and tell you that it'll be the next man up," Stefanski said Wednesday in a video call with local reporters. "I think there's a lot of good youth out there and some really athletic players. We're excited about those guys."

Stefanski is specifically referring to Sione Takitaki, Jacob Phillips, Montrel Meander, Tae Davis and Solomon Ajayi. All of those players could be in a rotation for first-team reps to fill in for Wilson, who was mainly playing as an outside linebacker so far in camp.

BJ Goodson, a four-year veteran, has been taking most of the snaps at inside linebacker, and his experience has made him one of the the de facto leaders of the position group. He appears to be the frontrunner to man the center of Cleveland's defense. He'll be ready to lead whoever lines up beside him.

That's been his approach since he signed with the Browns over the offseason. Injuries won't change it.

"It's definitely disheartening to see a teammate — and for me, a brother — to go down like that," Goodson said. "He's in good spirits and staying positive. We hope that he doesn't (miss time). If he does, it's an opportunity for someone to step up. We definitely will have some young guys step up."

Stefanski said he is waiting to hear the "full extent" of Wilson's injury from the Browns medical staff. Wilson will not participate in practice Wednesday.

"I feel for him," Stefanski said. "I don't know the extent and how long it will be, but I'll just defer to the medical staff."

Check out photos from the fifth day of Browns Camp

-OT Jack Conklin, who signed a three-year deal with the Browns in the offseason, said the offensive line has progressed well with grasping the wide-zone blocking schemes that play a pivotal role in the success of Stefanski's new offensive game plan.

"Coming in with a new offense, we're all learning," Conklin said. "It's not like it's an offense that's been here for a long time. We're all learning together, so I think that's made the progress smoother."

Conklin said the schemes are similar to what he played last season with the Tennessee Titans, which had the league's leading rusher in Derrick Henry and had one of the best offensive lines in football.

If the offensive line excels under the scheme, then the plethora of offensive weapons at other positions should benefit, too. Conklin knows how far a strong offensive line can take a team — the Titans were a win away from a trip to the Super Bowl last season — and he's intrigued to see how much the Browns' offensive talent will produce.

"It's pretty darn close to similar," he said about the schemes. "There's a few different terms here and there, but just seeing the opportunities we had last year in Tennessee and looking at the roster we had compared to roster this year, we've got so many threats here. It's going to be exciting. There's going to be a lot of opportunities for big plays, and it's going to be a lot of fun using the wide zone."

-Conklin also said he's been building strong a rapport with RG Wyatt Teller, who has handled first-team duties so far.

Right guard is the most uncertain starting position on the offense, but Teller, a three-year veteran, has looked the part at the position in training camp. If he wins the position for Week 1, the relationship between Teller and Conklin will be crucial.

"It's huge," Conklin said. "We're right next to each other on every play. The biggest thing is great communication. Wyatt is a guy who talks a lot, and it's nice. It's nice to be able to learn on the fly. Every play I come back into the huddle and have a few things to talk about, and he's been really open to that stuff. He's a guy who wants to learn and is learning a lot."

-Stefanski said that both the offense and defense can learn from takeaways, which have been a theme through two days of padded practice (one of which was played in the rain).

Interceptions happen in any training camp and can quickly identify a problem that will be addressed in meetings later in the afternoon. They also show how strong a chemistry is in a defense, although not all takeaways happen by moving in front of a receiver — some are simply by luck.

"All interceptions are not created equal," Stefanski said. "Offensively, you have to learn from every interception and learn from every fumble. I think there were some opportunities yesterday that we can learn from. That's what we're doing here in training camp."

-Stefanski said no players previously injured will return to practice today. That list includes Nick Chubb (concussion), Myles Garrett (hamstring), Larry Ogunjobi (groin), Damion Ratley (groin) and JC Tretter (knee).

Related Content