The Browns will be without T Jack Conklin for "multiple weeks" after the All-Pro tackle suffered an elbow injury in Sunday's loss to the Steelers.
Conklin suffered a "significant injury," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said, but he should be able to return at some point this season. Asked if Conklin could be headed toward injured reserve — which would ensure he's out for at least three games — Stefanski said he wasn't sure.
"It's tough," C JC Tretter said. "Those injuries are scary and it puts a pit in your stomach when you see something like that. Feel terrible for Jack but those are just really tough. You hate seeing those."
Without Conklin, the Browns will rely on Blake Hance, who entered the season a guard but has helped the team significantly at both tackle positions. Hance, who joined the Browns before their final regular season game in 2020, has started games at both left and right tackle while Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr. dealt with previous injuries. Hance, who played tackle at Northwestern University, has received offensive snaps in six of the Browns' eight games this season and is in store for a whole lot more in the coming weeks.
The Browns hit a milestone of sorts early last week when they had all five of their starting offensive linemen on the practice field for Wednesday's practice — the first such occurrence on the Wednesday of a game week since Week 1. On Sunday, the Browns had all five on the field for the first time since Week 4, a game that saw Wills start, but not finish, because of an ankle injury.
Now, the Browns will again call upon Hance to fill a significant void left by one of the best right tackles in the NFL.
"Ideally you want to play with your five. We haven't been able to, but we've had Blake step up and James (Hudson III) step up in situations. That's the National Football League," Tretter said. "Guys are going to get banged up. There are going to be guys who get hurt and you have to have the next guy up step up and play well. It hasn't been great for us health-wise, but we're going to have to find a way."
Check out photos of the Browns against the Steelers in week eight
More Injury News
S John Johnson III is considered day to day with a neck injury, Stefanski said.
Johnson did not play in Sunday's second half because of the injury. Without Johnson, the Browns tapped second-year safety Grant Delpit for every-snap duty.
Stefanski is hoping to have CB Denzel Ward back for Sunday's game against the Bengals but said he would know more when the team returns to practice Wednesday at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus.
Nick Chubb was healthy and will only get better after Sunday's game, his first since suffering a calf injury Week 5 against the Chargers, Stefanski said.
Chubb and the entire Browns ground attack was largely contained by a Steelers defense that made stopping the Pro Bowl RB its No. 1 priority. Chubb had runs of 14 and 21 yards, respectively, but was bottled up on the rest, as he finished with 61 yards on 16 carries. The Browns, as a team, rushed for just 96 yards, marking the second time this season Cleveland has been held under 100 yards.
The Browns saw their average dip but remain atop the league in rushing offense (161.1 yards per game). Chubb, despite missing two games, sits second in the league with 584 rushing yards.
"First thing is you have to give credit to their defense. That is a physical front. They have some really, really good players along that front and they did a nice job against our running game," Stefanski said. "They definitely were physical at the point of attack and we just have to find ways to run the ball versus a tough front. We have gone up against some tough fronts this season. Again, credit to them."