The Browns were without two key players from both sides of the ball Tuesday in practice — and will be crossing their fingers they'll be available for Thursday's game against Pittsburgh.
Pro Bowlers G Joel Bitonio (biceps) and DE Myles Garrett (neck) each missed practice due to injuries. Head coach Kevin Stefanski said their status for the primetime game against the Steelers was still undecided.
"We will see," Stefanski said. "I mentioned it before, these Thursday night games, sometimes it's hard for guys to make it. We will take every hour as they come."
Check out photos of players and coaches working to prepare for the teams regular season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday Night Football
The Browns did not practice Monday but estimated that Bitonio would not have practiced due to the injury. Garrett was not listed on Monday's injury report.
If Bitonio isn't able to play, the Browns could turn to either Michael Dunn, a guard who has served as the backup center after Nick Harris suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason, or fourth-year veteran Hjalte Froholdt for the start.
The loss of Garrett, who has three sacks in the first two games, would obviously be a big blow to a defensive line that will already be without its other Pro Bowl edge rusher, Jadeveon Clowney. Stefanski announced Monday that Clowney would be out for the game with an ankle injury, and the team also placed DE Chase Winovich on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.
Winovich will miss at least the next four games. Stefanski said he was unsure if Clowney would be able to return for Week 4 — where the Browns will have 10 days of rest.
"Obviously, you get extra time on the back end (of the Thursday night game), so I can't speak to it after this one," he said. "I'm not sure."
With Clowney out, the Browns were already planning to turn to third-round rookie Alex Wright and seventh-round rookie Isaiah Thomas. Isaac Rochell, a fifth-year veteran who spent training with the Browns, could also be elevated from the practice squad.
Wright has two tackles and is tied for the team lead with two pass breakups in the first two games.
"Similar to what we were talking about earlier, these are young players who we are asking a lot of them right away," Stefanski said. "Alex in particular really has responded. He has made plays in these games. He's gotten his hands on balls. He's very active. A young player, he's going to make his mistakes like you would expect, but really think highly of the young man."
Forgetting Week 2
The Browns spent Monday reviewing the tape from their stunning loss Sunday against the Jets but made clear Tuesday that they have turned the page from Week 2.
Focusing on Pittsburgh was always going to be the fastest way for the Browns to flush the disappointment, but it was never going to be easy after they allowed the Jets to rally from a 13-point deficit in the final two minutes.
"We have no time for any focus on anything else but the Steelers," QB Jacoby Brissett said. 'I think the players understand that. I think the coaches understand it. I think that was the standard when we walked into this building on Monday that we are onto the Steelers. Looking forward to it."
One player who begrudgingly looked back on the game Tuesday was RB Nick Chubb, who was asked about his 12-yard touchdown with 2:02 left. The touchdown gave the Browns a 30-17 lead, but it also gave the Jets another possession, which they quickly turned into a touchdown. They then recovered their onside kick and scored again to take the lead.
Chubb's touchdown should hardly be factored as a reason for the loss, but had he gone down to the grass rather than score, the Browns would've likely been able to run out the clock and seal the win.
"I probably shouldn't have scored right there, honestly, looking back at it," Chubb said. "It cost us the game. A lot of things went wrong, not just one thing but collectively as a unit and as a team, we could have all done things different. It's only a problem because we didn't win, so I probably should have went down."
Chubb, however, said he has moved past the result.
"I was over it until I came up here," he said with a smile. "I'm ready to move forward to the next game."
Rookie DT Perrion Winfrey has returned from a team-issued suspension that held him out of practice last Friday and the Jets game.
Winfrey, a fourth-round pick from Oklahoma, said he wanted to keep the reasoning for the suspension in-house.
"This puts me in a different head space, a different focus," he said. "It was something I needed to mature. I feel like I wouldn't be the player I'm going to be now if (the suspension) didn't happen."