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News & Notes: Jedrick Wills Jr. 'day to day' with ankle injury

The Browns received positive news regarding the status of Wills, a reliable second-year LT veteran

Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said second-year veteran LT Jedrick Wills Jr. is "day-to-day" after exiting Sunday's Week 1 game against the Chiefs with an ankle injury. 

"We'll see how he progresses throughout the week," Stefanski said.

Wills played 20 snaps before he suffered his injury in the second quarter. Chris Hubbard stepped in and performed well, helping the Browns' offensive line finish with the league's highest pass block win rate in Week 1, according to ESPN. QB Baker Mayfield also had the longest average time to throw (3.09) of any quarterback.

"I think we handled it well," center JC Tretter said. "Chris is a grizzled veteran. He's been in those situations plenty. The expectation's that he can step in and play as a starter and play at a high level. We never worry about it when Chris comes into the game because he's shown time and time again that he can do that."

The smooth performance from Hubbard, an eight-year veteran, is even more remarkable considering Sunday was his first game back from a season-ending knee injury from 2020. Hubbard, who dislocated his knee in Week 15, completed a full recovery back to the field in training camp and was back to speed just in time for Week 1.

Stefanski said Hubbard will continue to fill in until Wills returns.

"I thought Hub had some good moments," Stefanski said. "We've called on him in the past to play right tackle, and in this case it was left tackle. That's the nature of being the sixth-man. He performed admirably. If Jed were not to be able to go, he would be the guy that would be in there."

OBJ will play 'when he's ready to play'

The Browns listed WR Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) among the players out with an injury Sunday and will continue to follow his rehab plan as he recovers from a season-ending ACL injury from Week 7 of last season.

"I wouldn't call it a conservative approach," Stefanski said. "We're just trying to be appropriate with all of this. Ultimately, he's coming off a major surgery. We're going to work through it day by day, and when he's ready to play, he'll play."

Beckham is 10 months removed from his surgery and has still made remarkable progress in practice, where he was listed as a limited participant on all three practice days last week. He was sprinting and catching passes in warm-ups Sunday — one-handed catches were among them — but he and the team both decided he was not ready for full-game action.

Stefanski didn't have an update on Beckham's status ahead of their Week 2 home opener Sunday against the Houston Texans.

"We listed him as questionable (against the Chiefs), which is 50-50," Stefanski said. "We knew we had a plan, and we made sure he worked out pregame. He wasn't ready, but when he's ready, he'll play."

Emphasis on takeaways for Browns D

The Browns defense highlighted the team's minus-2 turnover margin as one of its biggest areas of needed improvement from Sunday's loss.

Takeaways are always hard to find against QB Patrick Mahomes, who has thrown just 24 career interceptions in his first four NFL seasons, but the Browns still lamented how they weren't able to pick a pass off — or force a fumble.

"We've got to finish and find a way to get takeaways," CB Denzel Ward said. "We've got to find a way to find the ball, attack the ball and get our offense in a better position."

The Browns excelled at takeaways at the beginning of last season. Their 12 takeaways in the first five games were one of the biggest reasons why they started the year 4-1 and positioned themselves for a playoff run, and the Browns are expecting their defense to follow a similar path starting Week 2 against the Houston Texans, who were plus-3 in turnover margin in their first game against the Jaguars.

"We're putting an emphasis on it," Ward said. "We've got to buy into it. We just have to attack the ball and go after it, whether it's stripping the ball or when we have the opportunity to get our hands on the ball. We have to take it away."

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