The news just keeps on getting grimmer for the Cleveland Browns, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The team has placed starting linebacker Christian Kirksey and defensive back E.J. Gaines on injured reserve. Kirksey injured his hamstring during Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, while Gaines suffered his second concussion of the season in the first quarter of the game.
Because NFL rules require players to miss eight games after being placed on injured reserve, Kirksey and Gaines are done for the season.
The injuries were just the latest to hit the defensive side of the ball. The Browns have been without linebacker Joe Schobert for the past three games as he has dealt with a hamstring injury, although he did return to practice on Wednesday; cornerback Terrance Mitchell for the past five games with a broken wrist; and starting safety Damarious Randall missed the game against Kansas City with a groin injury.
But wait, there’s more!
Starting cornerback Denzel Ward left the game against the Chiefs with a hip injury and the Browns do not yet know if that injury will keep him sidelined or not, but he is expected to return to practice on Thursday:
Gregg Williams says he anticipates Denzel Ward to practice in some fashion tomorrow. Encouraging news for the star rookie.— Andrew Gribble (@Andrew_Gribble) November 7, 2018
The Browns filled one of the roster spots by signing defensive back Juston Burris of the practice squad of the New York Jets. According to the team website:
Officially in his third year, Burris (6-0, 212) was a 2016 fourth-round (118th overall) selection by the Jets and was added to the club’s practice squad after being waived on Oct. 27. Appearing in 34 career games with two starts, Burris registered 28 tackles, seven pass breakups and two interceptions since 2016. This season, he saw game action in four contests and was inactive for three. Burris is a product of Raleigh, N.C. and played collegiately at North Carolina State.
With Kirksey out, and no timetable for Schobert’s return, Cleveland’s depth chart for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons shows a starting linebacker group of rookie Genard Avery, the under-performing Jamie Collins and next-man-up Ray-Ray Armstrong.
The secondary looks just as shaky, with Denzel Rice possibly moving up if Ward can’t go, and Tavierre Thomas backing up T.J. Carrie at the other cornerback position.