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News & Notes: Jack Conklin ready to get Browns O-Line back to full strength

Cleveland’s veteran RT has missed the past 2 games with a knee injury but expects to play Sunday

Jack Conklin made it short and sweet when he met with reporters Wednesday.

"I'm back," he said.

Conklin, who has missed the past two games with a knee injury, expects to be back in his starting role Sunday when the Browns host the Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium. It will be a welcome sight for a Browns offensive line that has been hit hard by injuries at the tackle positions ever since LT Jedrick Wills Jr. suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter of the Browns' Week 1 game at Kansas City.

The Browns' starting five of Wills, Conklin, Joel Bitonio, JC Tretter and Wyatt Teller has yet to start and finish a full game this season.

"It is so important those five playing together and the communication that occurs along that front," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "The guys who have gone in have really stepped up and done a great job for us, but Jack is an integral part of our run attack and our pass attack so it would be great to have him back out there."

Conklin suffered his knee injury late in the action of the Browns' Week 5 loss to the Chargers. It was an untimely one for the Browns, who were already without Wills and veteran sixth man Chris Hubbard, who is on injured reserve with a triceps injury. 

For the rest of that game and Week 6 against the Cardinals, the Browns rolled with Blake Hance at left tackle and rookie James Hudson III on the right side. This past week against the Broncos, Hance slid over to the right side after Wills was able to return. 

On Wednesday, the Browns had all five of their starters available for a Wednesday practice for the first time since before the start of the season. It comes at pivotal point in the schedule, too, as the Browns prepare to play their first AFC North game of the season.

"You can feel the difference. It is that smash-mouth football," Conklin said. "You know it is going to be a tough game. They have a great defense, as we all know. It will be a great challenge. You can definitely feel the rivalry here. It is fun to have that. It means so much to the city and to us."

Other Updates

The Browns were without five key players Wednesday at their first practice of the week — CB Denzel Ward (hamstring), WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin), DT Malik Jackson (knee), DE Jadeveon Clowney (ankle/groin/knee) and WR Jarvis Landry (knee).

Stefanski did not rule any of the players out for Sunday, though their progress will be monitored throughout the week.

Stefanski said Landry's knee injury is different from the one that forced him to miss four games earlier in the season. Landry took a hard hit near the end of last week's win over the Broncos, limped off the field but was able to return for the final few plays. 

Stefanski said there's a chance Landry will practice this week.

The Browns were able to secure a 17-14 Thursday night over the Broncos thanks to quality performances from several offensive backup players. QB Case Keenum passed for 199 yards with a touchdown to FB Johnny Stanton, who was filling in for starting FB Andy Janovich, while RB D'Ernest Johnson rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown in his first NFL start.

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