DE Takkarist McKinley suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in Monday's loss to the Raiders and will require surgery.
What had been a bounce-back season for the veteran defensive end is now over. That was made official when he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
"Obviously, losing Takk is very unfortunate," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "He has been giving us some really good reps and production."
McKinley suffered the injury during the third quarter of Monday's 16-14 loss to the Raiders when he came up limping after a Las Vegas pass attempt. An emotional McKinley fell to the turf and was surrounded by supporting teammates before he was ultimately carted off the field.
McKinley started two games and appeared in 11 as a key member of Cleveland's pass-rushing attack. He finished with 2.5 sacks on the season and forced a key fumble in last week's win over the Ravens.
"I told him to be optimistic, that we loved him and we were here for him," said DE Myles Garrett, who stood next to McKinley as he was loaded onto the cart. "Just keep his head up. I know he was hurting physically and mentally. I just wanted him to know we had his back. Whether it is in the game or off the field, whatever he needs, we are here for him."
The Browns will have to overcome the loss of McKinley starting Saturday when they travel to Green Bay for a nationally televised Christmas Day matchup with the NFC North champions. The status of Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney is also uncertain, as Garrett deals with a groin injury he suffered in Monday's fourth quarter and Clowney remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Stefanski said he was still awaiting test results for Garrett, who played through the pain and nearly got his hand on Daniel Carlson's 48-yard game-winning field goal. Garrett vowed he wouldn't miss any time with the injury, but Stefanski cautioned the team would need the test results before plotting a course of action.
Clowney, just like the other numerous Browns players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, are considered day to day before their 10 days lapse. Clowney was officially placed on the list Sunday, meaning he would need to test out of the protocols in order to be available Saturday.
"There is some uncertainty with Jadeveon and with Myles," Stefanski said. "We will see how that goes throughout the week, but we obviously are always looking to apply pressure to the quarterback, and those guys have done a nice job. We will see who is available to us and come up with a plan based on the people who are available."
Check out photos of the Browns against the Bengals in Week 18
One More Update
S John Johnson III is considered day to day with a hamstring injury, Stefanski said.
Johnson appeared to suffer the injury on the same play Garrett went down with a groin injury. He was in and out of the lineup during the final quarter as the Browns unsuccessfully tried to keep the Raiders off the scoreboard.
Rookie S Richard LeCounte III filled in for Johnson, who was the lone regular safety available for Monday's game. Grant Delpit and Ronnie Harrison Jr. are both on the reserve/COVID-19 list. M.J. Stewart played alongside Johnson as a strong safety and also logged a number of snaps as a nickel cornerback.
The Browns did not have any of the 22 players on reserve/COVID-19 lists test out of the protocols Tuesday, Stefanski said. That also included Stefanski, who has been self-isolating since last Wednesday.
Stefanski said he expects to be cleared from the protocols one way or the other before Saturday's 4:30 p.m. kickoff in Green Bay. If he is required to spend the 10 full days on the list, he will have to travel separately from the team, which will depart Friday. The same goes for QB Baker Mayfield, who tested positive for COVID-19 on the same day as Stefanski.
"You really circle Day 10 for all of us, and Day 10 occurs for different people on different days," Stefanski said. "Obviously, the hope is that guys test out sooner than that so that you can get them in the building and get them back going physically, mentally, get them back out at practice and those type of things. Short of not knowing, we just have to plan on the people who we have and we know about, and then we will adjust based on what occurs over the next couple of days."