But everyone else, including linebacker James Burgess, has a real chance to play this week, albeit with some limitations.
Let’s look at Wednesday’s injury reports to see where both teams are at as they begin preparing for this week’s game.
- LB James Burgess (knee), limited
Burgess has missed the last two games with a knee injury. He did not practice at all last week, so seeing him at least get in a limited session has him potentially on track to return to his key reserve role in Week 6.
- TE Seth DeValve (hamstring), limited
Seth DeValve played just nine snaps last week after being limited in Week 1 with a quad injury, then missing Weeks 2 through 4 with his lingering hamstring issue. Getting DeValve back on the field and at full speed will be a big boon for a team that needs some better blocking help from its tight ends, as well as some sure-handed options for Baker Mayfield down the field.
- CB E.J. Gaines (groin), limited
The Browns really needed someone to step up in Terrance Mitchell’s absence, and first-man up E.J. Gaines answered the call. After missing the end of preseason and first two games with an ankle injury, Gaines has been an integral boundary corner. Hue Jackson didn’t mention his groin injury as a concern during Wednesday’s press conference, so we’ll monitor his practice participation throughout the week. Losing him for the big test the Philip Rivers-led Chargers present would be a significant blow.
- OL Desmond Harrison (knee), limited
This is not what you want to see heading into a big game. Desmond Harrison fully practiced through a shoulder injury in Week 4, wasn’t listed on the injury report last week, and is now dealing with a knee injury. We haven’t talked about this much, but the team would most likely go back to Joel Bitonio at left tackle should Harrison be forced to miss this week’s game. That would potentially mean the first start for rookie Austin Corbett at left guard. Corbett played three snaps last week after being a healthy scratch for two of the first four weeks.
- Rashard Higgins (knee), did not practice
It’s no secret that Higgins is going to miss the next couple of weeks with an MCL sprain. Don’t look for any miracle recoveries and game-time decision type mysteries. Higgins is out in Week 6, and Rod Streeter and rookies Derrick Willies and Damion Ratley will compete for his snaps.
- Damarious Randall (heel), limited
Despite being banged up and dealing with a lingering heel issue, Damarious Randall has gutted it out and played pretty well over the last few weeks. After not practicing at all last Wednesday, Randall got in two limited sessions before drawing a questionable tag before Sunday’s win over Baltimore. He played every snap in Week 5. Expect the Browns to continue managing his practice reps to keep him fresh for Sundays.
- OT Joe Barksdale (knee), limited
- WR Travis Benjamin (foot), did not practice
- DE Joey Bosa (foot), did not practice
- LB Jatavis Brown (groin), did not practice
- TE Virgil Green (rib), full practice
- OT Russell Okung (groin), limited
- C Mike Pouncey (knee), limited
- DT Damion Square (shoulder), full
- K Caleb Sturgis (quad), limited
- LB Kyzir White (knee), did not practice
Joe Barksdale, Travis Benjamin, Joey Bosa, Russell Okung, and Kyzir White all missed last week’s 26-10 win over the Oakland Raiders.
ESPN’s Eric Williams said Bosa will not even travel to Cleveland for this week’s matchup. He also reported Benjamin was in a walking boot and was unlikely to play this week.
Barksdale, Okung, and Mike Pouncey are the big question marks the Browns should be monitoring. While you’d imagine losing both starting tackles last week would be a big blow for any team, it didn’t end up mattering as the Chargers rolled. Sam Tevi filled in at left tackle, and Trent Scott locked down the right side. Scott, an undrafted former walk-on at Grambling State, was promoted to the team’s active roster last week before making his first NFL start. Tevi was a 2017 fourth-round pick from Utah.
Bonus points if you can explain in the comments how you knew either of those two names before this reading.
Despite the pretty easy win, the Chargers did struggle running the ball, which is where you’ll see the most issues with so many offensive line changes. They finished with only 74 yards on 2.5 yards per carry. Rivers still threw for for 333 yards and two scores and was only sacked once without Barksdale and Okung last week.
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said both tackles will be limited and will probably be game-time decisions for Week 6.
Rookie linebacker Kyzir White will probably not play after having a minor knee procedure a few weeks ago, but Jatavis Brown has been making plays in his absence. Lynn said Brown would be limited this week, although he didn’t participate Wednesday. Losing both would mean a much less proven linebacker corps, giving the Browns a possible exploitable matchup this weekend.