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News & Notes: Jack Conklin has chance to play Week 1

The Browns added to their tackle depth Monday as well with the addition of Joe Haeg


The Browns are waiting to see how OT Jack Conklin does in practice this week before determining his status for Sunday's season-opening game against the Panthers.

But according to head coach Kevin Stefanski, Conklin — who has spent the offseason rehabbing from his season-ending knee injury in 2021 — has a chance to play. 

"(We) definitely want to see how today's practice went," Stefanski said. "It's all about, for Jack, stacking days on top of each other, back-to-back practices and those types of things."

Conklin, a 2020 First Team All-Pro, would add reliability to the offensive line as the offense looks to open strong against the Panthers, who finished second in the league last year in total defense. Conklin has been available in practice since the beginning of training camp but has been eased back, spending some days as a participant in most drills and others on the sideline for a rest day. 

The Browns also added another offensive tackle to their depth chart Monday with the signing of Joe Haeg, also a seventh-year veteran who has totaled 40 career starts in Indianapolis, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. Haeg joins Chris Hubbard and James Hudson III as backup options to Jedrick Wills Jr. and Conklin.

Haeg played 12 games with the Steelers last year and was given a 67.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. Stefanski said the Browns will be able to use him at both tackle positions.

"(He's) somebody who our personnel staff had looked at quite a bit," Stefanski said. "Just felt like he was a veteran who could add depth to the position … I would just tell you tackle depth is really important in this league and felt like he was somebody who was available that was a good player."

Garrett returns

Myles Garrett was the lone player not at practice Monday morning, but he was expected to return later in the day. He was excused from practice for a personal reason.

"He will be back today," Stefanski said.

Browns add TE to 53

In addition to Haeg, the Browns on Monday signed TE Jesse James to their 53-man roster, where he'll serve as a backup to David Njoku and Harrison Bryant.

Browns fans are likely most familiar with James from his time in Pittsburgh from 2015-2018. A fifth-round pick by the Steelers, James spent last season with Chicago and two seasons before that with the Lions. He has 157 career receptions for 1,522 yards and 12 touchdowns.

The No. 3 tight end was previously a key part of Stefanski's offense — the Browns led the league in 13 personnel (1 RB, 3 TEs) in his first two years as a coach. But with two new QBs in Jacoby Brissett and Deshaun Watson, the Browns are using a tweaked offensive playbook and might decrease their usage of the formation.

James, however, will still be a player the Browns expect to count on in both receiving and blocking.

"I think with his role, he has to be able to do both because you really are a backup to Dave and Harrison," Stefanski said. "Obviously, there are some moments all three of them could be out there together potentially. Really, it depends on what is needed for that game."

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