The Cleveland Browns will likely be without starting cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams when they face the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.
If they are unable to go after not practicing for the second consecutive week, it will be the third consecutive game that Ward and Williams will miss with hamstring injuries, and if history is any indication (and it is), the Browns may not see them on the field again until after the bye week.
According to a 2018 story from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, there are three types of hamstring injuries that players deal with — simple pull, partial tear and complete tear. The Browns have not gone into great detail about the injuries to Ward and Williams, but there is no reason to believe that either player has anything other than a simple hamstring pull.
But that does not mean all the news is good.
In his story, Fowler referenced a 2011 study for the U.S. National Library of Medicine conducted by several doctors that found that players missed an average of 2.6 games whenever they suffered a hamstring injury. And if a player tries to rush back, they run the risk of making the injury worse.
So while Ward and Williams will hit the over on the 2.6 game average if they do not play on Monday night, having previously missed games against the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Ravens, there is a caveat to that number.
Because both players injured their hamstrings during practice on the Friday before the Rams game, it has only been two weeks since they were injured. If they had been injured during a game, and then subsequently missed three games, that would put the recovery time at four weeks.
Which means that it may be a tad bit optimistic, just yet, to think that Ward and Williams will be able to return for the October 13 game against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Browns went through this last season with linebacker Joe Schobert, who injured his hamstring on October 14 against the Los Angeles Chargers and did not return until four full weeks later against the Atlanta Falcons.
If Ward or Williams are not able to practice again this upcoming week, or practice and still seem bothered by their hamstrings, the prudent decision by the Browns might be to sit them for the Seattle game, which is followed by Cleveland’s bye week. That would give both players four full weeks of recovery time and then a week of practice before the Browns resume the regular season on October 27 against the New England Patriots.
It could be hard to take, but having Ward and Williams both fully healthy for the final 10 games of the season might be the right play for a Browns team that is eyeing a playoff run this year.