After clinching a playoff berth with their win over the Jets in Week 17, the Browns are now also locked into the five seed as they head into Week 18. The Browns will travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals at 1 p.m. for the final regular season game.
As we head into the final week of the regular season and the Browns' Week 18 against the Bengals, let's look at the top news and notes from Monday.
WR Amari Cooper
Amari Cooper was a late add to the inactive list on before Thursday Night Football, as he is dealing with a heel injury. HC Kevin Stefanski said that Cooper tried to test it out before the game but was ultimately unable to go.
"Amari's feeling better," Stefanski said. "So, again, we'll see how he does throughout this week, but he's definitely feeling better."
WR Elijah Moore
Elijah Moore took a hit in Thursday's game against the Jets and was later ruled out with a head injury. Stefanski said on Dec. 29 that Moore was released from the hospital and was home but was in the concussion protocol.
On Monday, Stefanski said that Moore continues to make progress.
"We'll see how that goes again over these days, but very excited about that," Stefanski said.
Adding QB Jeff Driskel to the active roster
On Dec. 29, the Browns signed QB Jeff Driskel to their active roster. Stefanski said that rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson's hip injury that placed him on IR played a factor in bringing in Driskel.
"A guy that we felt good about bringing in," Stefanski said. "(OC Alex Van Pelt) has been with him before when he was in Arizona. So, there's a lot of carryover from what we do and what they do in terms of terminology. So, with Dorian's injury, getting a guy in here that we felt good about.
Stefanski said there was not a decision yet on if QB Joe Flacco would rest during their Week 18 matchup against the Bengals.
"This decision I'll make for what's best for every position and everybody on the team," Stefanski said. "But Joe's certainly a veteran that does a great job in the meeting room, does a great job on game day of letting you know what he's seeing. He sees it really well. But I think it's really important that you listen to your guys, both in this building, when you're working and you're in meetings and when you're out there in the practice field. I think it's important to listen to them on game day as well."
RB Jerome Ford's 50-yard touchdown run
Stefanski said that that the involvement of the run game played a big part in their success against the Jets. RB Jerome Ford's individual efforts from early in the game factored into their ability to get the run game in involved.
Ford said they were able to home in as a group and felt like the running back room was clicking during practices, which helped translate to the field in Week 17.
He rushed for 64 yards on 12 carries and caught two passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns. His longest of the day was a 50-yard reception at the end of the second quarter, where he broke through a number of tackles and ran into the end zone for the touchdown.
And yet, scoring the touchdown wasn't Ford's favorite part of the play.
"My favorite part about the play actually is if you look at the very end of the play, you can see Marquise Goodwin shoot across the field and just knock somebody out," Ford said. "And I felt like that was a big help in a touchdown and I didn't realize it until I watched it again on film. I'm like, dang, he really smacked that dude. So yeah, that's my favorite part of that play."
Browns defense on the road
While the Browns have been a dominant defensive team throughout the season, some of their biggest slip ups as a defense have come on the road. As they head on the road for the final regular season game against the Bengals – and again for the Wild Card game in the playoffs – their ability to play on the road will be critical.
When the Browns traveled to Houston and faced the Texans in Week 16, the defense demonstrated their potential as they held them to only a touchdown on a kickoff return until the fourth quarter when the starters were subbed out.
LB Sione Takitaki said they knew as a unit they had to play better on the road, and to have that level of success on the road against the Texans built confidence for their defense.
"I felt like we emphasize playing better on the road, just struggling early on, and we emphasize that knowing that we got to play better on the road," Takitaki said. "And I feel like we went out there when we played in Houston and executed. And that's going to be the same mindset this week, going on the road, playing a good game, getting that W."