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News & Notes: Stefanski praises top playmakers for plays that don't show up on stat sheet

Browns WRs, TEs are making an impact with and without the ball

Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry made important catches Sunday. So did TEs Austin Hooper and Harrison Bryant, the latter of whom gave the Browns the lead for good when he caught his first NFL touchdown.

Those plays, alone, just don't completely cover the impact they've made in Cleveland's back-to-back wins at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski singled out both position groups for the role they've played in the team's explosive ground attack, which has racked up 373 yards and five touchdowns over the past two games.

"The ground game takes 11 guys, like we have talked about before," Stefanski said Monday. "I thought all those guys, and I would single out the receivers as well, Odell, KhaDarel (Hodge), Jarvis and all those guys blocking downfield."

Beckham caught four passes for 59 yards, all of which moved the chains. None was bigger than his 15-yarder on third-and-long late in the third quarter, when the Browns were reeling after back-to-back Washington touchdowns. Landry added four catches for 36 yards while Hodge did not catch a pass on a day in which the Browns had just three active receivers following JoJo Natson’s first-half knee injury.

That didn't matter to Hodge, the Browns' game captain who expressed excitement about the role he played in the win in a post to his personal Twitter account.

Hooper, who has seven catches for 62 yards on the season, and Bryant have done the same, and Stefanski has appreciated their contributions as blockers in both the running game and passing game. Bryant has been spotted showing just as much emotion after a big block as he did following his touchdown catch.

"That tight end position is such a versatile role," Stefanski said. "They have to be able to affect the pass game and the run game, showing a little emotion like he did there is always a good thing."

Check out the best photos from the Browns win over the Washington Football Team yesterday by the Browns photo team

On the Mend

Stefanski said he expects the roles of CB Kevin Johnson and LB Mack Wilson to grow in the coming weeks after the players made their respective 2020 debuts Sunday.

"I think there is a ramping up to this thing," Stefanski said. "I think it happens out here on the practice field. It happens on the game field and getting them those game reps. I would anticipate that both those guys and a lot of these guys coming back from injury will slowly but surely add to their rep totals." 

Johnson played 38 snaps Sunday with the majority coming in the second half, when Denzel Ward (groin) was unavailable. Wilson played just six snaps.

Veteran Malcolm Smith, who is starting in Wilson's place, felt Wilson's energy on the sidelines and on the field even in his limited action.

"Mack is a linebacker's linebacker," Smith said. "He loves the game. He wants to be out there all the time. We all appreciate and respect his love for the game in the room. He has even been a light and a leader for us, even when he has not been on the field. I have a lot of respect for him as a young player." 

Stefanski said he was "hopeful" Ward would be able to get through the week of practice. DE Olivier Vernon (abdomen), LB Jacob Phillips (knee) and CB Greedy Williams (shoulder) are all "progressing" after missing Sunday's game, Stefanski said.

"I do want to point out that there are a ton of guys that are fighting through these injuries that are working their tails off to get out there on the practice field and make it to the game," Stefanski said. "I think that is a great testament to this team and guys pushing through these injuries." 

On the Ball

Bryant celebrated his first NFL touchdown with a thunderous spike. The ball went fluttering away and, for a brief moment, he thought he'd lost the keepsake item.

The panic subsided after he tracked it down, and Bryant was able to fully enjoy what it meant for him and the team as a whole.

"A big win for the team against a good team and then being able to have that opportunity to score my first NFL touchdown," Bryant said. "It was extremely exciting to just go out there, produce and do whatever I can to help the team win."

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