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News & Notes: Jack Conklin 'ready to go' after missing Bengals game

Veteran RT ready to square off against Washington on Sunday

Jack Conklin said Wednesday the injured ankle that kept him out of the Browns' Week 2 win over the Bengals will be "100 percent" by the time Cleveland kicks off with Washington on Sunday.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski said he had no reason to doubt him and expressed excitement about the veteran right tackle's return to the lineup.

"Jack is a trustworthy guy. You take what he says definitely to heart," Stefanski said before Wednesday's practice. "Nice to have him out there. He is a good football player. There is a reason we brought him in here. He brings a level of toughness to what we do. Very heady football player. Excited any time he is out there."

Conklin, who is also dealing with a finger injury, was active for last week's game but never saw the field. He worked out extensively before the game, but the Browns opted on the side of caution and concluded he'd only be needed in an emergency situation.

"It is tough," Conklin said. "You want to be out there playing, but that is why I am here. Hopefully, we do not have that situation again."  

The emergency never presented itself, and the Browns got along just fine without Conklin. Veteran Chris Hubbard, Cleveland's starter at the position over the previous two seasons, filled his spot, and the offensive line powered the way in a dominant rushing effort that also included zero hits on QB Baker Mayfield.

Still, the return of Conklin will be welcomed, as the Browns host a Washington team — led by talented pass rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat — that collected eight sacks in its season-opening win over the Eagles.

"Having those 10 days, that was fantastic for my ankle, and I am feeling great," Conklin said. "I am ready to go."

The Browns' revamped group of blockers overcame multiple injuries to deliver a performance that featured more than 200 rushing yards from Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and zero sacks on Baker Mayfield, who had plenty of time to throw throughout Cleveland's 35-30 victory.

Injury Update

For a second straight practice, CBs Greedy Williams (shoulder) and Kevin Johnson (liver) and LB Mack Wilson (knee) were active participants. All three have yet to play in a game this season but are working their way toward potentially being available Sunday against Washington.

DEs Olivier Vernon (abdominal) and Adrian Clayborn (hip) and LB Jacob Phillips (knee) worked off to the side during the portion of practice open to reporters. Phillips and Vernon were inactive against the Bengals while Clayborn suffered an injury during the first half.

"They are still working," Stefanski said. "We are just going to take it day by day, like we do with all of these, and see where they are by the end of today and then see where they are tomorrow and so on and then make a decision as we get later in the week." 

Team Effort

Stefanski is looking for much more from Cleveland's kickoff coverage, which has struggled to contain opposing returners through the first two weeks of the season.

The Browns rank second-to-last in the NFL with an average of 37.8 yards allowed per return. In last week's game against the Bengals, Cleveland allowed returns of 45 and 42 yards and had another kick sail out of bounds for a penalty.

Asked if last week's performance had anything to do with new K Cody Parkey's kicks, Stefanski said they were only part of the problem.

"I think we are looking for our kickoff unit to be a weapon for us," Stefanski said. "That obviously takes all 11 guys. Cody is a big part of that. When we are looking to cover, we have to get those guys on the ground, use it to our advantage and play this field position game."

Upon Further Review

Mayfield's one blemish from last week's win over the Bengals was a fourth-quarter interception. The third-year QB thought he had rookie TE Harrison Bryant open for a touchdown pass down the middle of the field, but Bengals CB William Jackson III swooped in from his left to snag the interception.

Mayfield broke the play down in his meeting with reporters Wednesday.

"Coming off of the play-action bootleg game, having somebody in your face you want to obviously find a completion or find an incompletion. No negative plays when you have someone in your face like that," Mayfield said. "As I am coming out, there is somebody right there and I see Harrison win on Jessie Bates on the corner post, but because I stepped up and had to stop and did not have my eyes on the backside corner, that is where the interception happened. 

"When it comes to that stuff and I can't see the whole field or the perfect look that we need for it, just check it down or find an incompletion."

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