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News & Notes: Stefanski explains Browns' plan for team captains

Unlike many teams around the NFL, the Browns haven't announced a set of captains for the upcoming season. 

There won't be one — at least in the traditional sense — because Kevin Stefanski and the team plan to handle it a little differently and on a week-by-week basis.

Stefanski on Thursday said the Browns would have 16 game captains this season with one given the honor for each game.

"We do have a leadership committee and we do have a social justice committee," Stefanski said. "My message to the players is you do not need a C on your chest to be a great leader."

Stefanski said he knows who will be the captain for Sunday's game against the Ravens but had yet to inform the player.

I*njury Update*

The Browns didn't have any changes to their injury report Thursday, as C JC Tretter (knee) and CB M.J. Stewart Jr. (hamstring) were listed as limited participants while CB Greedy Williams (shoulder), LB Mack Wilson (knee), CB Kevin Johnson (liver) and T Chris Hubbard (ankle) did not participate.

Stefanski said Tretter, who missed all of training camp while recovering from knee surgery, "looked good" and "looked like JC" at Wednesday's practice.

"He has kind of been through this the last few years he has been here," LG Joel Bitonio said. "The way he works and the trust, I think the whole goal was to try to get back for Week 1. He is still working at it, but we knew he was going to have a chance to at least practice and see it how it feels out there on Monday so it was good to see him back out there."

Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Ravens Sunday

A*lways a Surprise*

Stefanski downplayed the notion this year's season opener would be significantly different than ones in years' past because of the lack of preseason games.

"Nobody shows anything in the preseason anyway so I am telling you, in all 32 cities, they have wrinkles that they can't wait to unveil on Sunday or tonight, Thursday night, I promise you," Stefanski said. "That is just part of Week 1 and that is why you have to have great communication on the sideline with your players." 

Asked if he had a few surprises up his sleeve, Stefanski said, "a few."

C*onfidence in the LBs*

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods expressed confidence in his young linebackers heading into what could be their toughest matchup of the season.

The Browns could be without Wilson on Sunday and will rely upon a group with limited NFL experience against a Ravens offense that set multiple rushing records in 2019. Veteran B.J. Goodson is listed as the top option in the middle while second-year LBs Sione Takitaki and Wilson are listed as the starters on the outside. If Wilson can't play, that could mean extensive work for third-round rookie Jacob Phillips.

Woods, though, has liked what he's seen from the group and can't wait to see how they play Sunday.

"I think we really have a good group of linebackers," Woods said. "I really think it will come down to those guys getting on the field, playing with each other, getting comfortable with each other in terms of communication. But I do feel good where they are at right now. We will see what happens on Sunday." 

C*ontingency Plan*

With the Sunday signing of Cody Parkey, the Browns were one of a number of teams to add a kicker to their practice squad for the upcoming season. Parkey, who kicked for the Browns in 2016, was one of the four players the Browns "protected" leading up to Sunday's game, meaning no team is able to sign him away to its active roster.

Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Parkey's presence helps the Browns in the event Austin Seibert is lost to an injury or illness during the buildup to the game. The league's testing protocols have made it much more difficult to add a kicker — or any player for that matter — to the roster on short notice.

"We made the decision that the best thing for us was to bring in a guy that could go out and help us score points if we needed to and we could bring him up Sunday morning if we needed to if something happened to Austin," Priefer said. "Competition, it obviously makes everybody better. It makes coaches better. It makes players better. It can't hurt that Cody is a very good kicker, as well, that he will push Austin a little bit, but Austin is our guy. He is the guy we believe in. He is the guy that is going to help us win games this year. We firmly believe that."

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