Changes could be coming to the bottom of the Browns' roster.
As is common this time of year, injuries are widespread, and the Browns have plenty of players with afflictions. Two players, however, are on the mend and nearly ready to play.
Cornerback Charles Gaines and running back Glenn Winston returned to practice today, marking the approach of two significant decisions for general manager Ray Farmer.
Gaines currently sits on the temporary injured reserve following an ankle injury sustained in September. A team can only place one player per year on this exclusive list, which could signify that the Browns have high hopes for the 2015 sixth round pick.
Should Farmer approve, Gaines is eligible to return for the Browns' week nine matchup against the Bengals on Thursday Night Football. If Gaines is activated, poor Justin Gilbert might lose even his special teams snaps.
Like Gaines, Winston saw reps at practice today. The Browns placed Winston on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list in August after the 26 year old underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on August 6. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, the former undrafted free agent is eligible to play as soon as this weekend.
With a three-back rotation of Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, and Robert Turbin, Winston looks obsolete. The Browns have three weeks to either activate him or place him on the season-ending injured reserve.
Unlike Gaines and Winston, tight end Rob Housler did not practice Wednesday, due to an injured hamstring. The former Arizona Cardinal has just one catch for six yards on four targets this season.
Housler's injury could open the door for E.J. Bibbs. The rookie tight end resides on the 53-man roster, but has not yet been active this season. Head coach Mike Pettine said today that Bibbs is "is in the conversation." Bibbs impressed the coaching staff this past spring and summer with his elusiveness and pass catching skills.
Some pundits have called for Bibbs' activation, and the argument is well-founded. Why not see if the kid can play?
In other injury news, cornerback Joe Haden remains in the NFL's concussion protocol. The Pro Bowler missed last week's loss to the Broncos due to lingering concussion symptoms.
Tashaun Gipson and Craig Robertson also sat out practice, due to ankle injuries.