Cleveland’s offense put up 41 points despite losing right tackle Jack Conklin to a hamstring injury in the second quarter, with Kendall Lamm stepping in for Conklin, who earned All-Pro honors last week.
Lamm did a solid job filling in for Conklin and now the Browns might need to call on Lamm for an encore performance this week when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs in a Divisional Playoff game.
Head coach Kevin Stefanksi met with the media on Monday and said that Conklin is day to day and the team will know more as they work through the week.
There are still several days before game time, but as we’ve seen in the past with hamstring injuries - think cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams in 2019 - hamstring injuries are not to be taken lightly.
If Conklin were to miss the game against the Chiefs, it would continue a season-long trend where Cleveland’s offensive line has had to adjust. Right guard Wyatt Teller missed games with calf and ankle injuries, backup Chris Hubbard suffered a torn ACL three plays into the game against the New York Giants, and rookie Nick Harris suffered a knee injury while filling in for Hubbard.
It was more of the same against the Steelers, as left guard Joel Bitonio was out after being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, and his backup, Michael Dunn, was injured in the fourth quarter, forcing Blake Hance, who only joined the team last week, to play the final 14 offensive plays of the game.
Basically, it was just another day for the Browns, center JC Tretter said on Monday, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
“I think this year the way it has gone, I think everybody has to kind of live by that mindset of just being ready to play, being ready to perform with different circumstances and under unique preparation circumstances as well. I think we have been ready for that but a ton of credit to those guys to step in in a playoff game and play at that high of a level.”
In addition to Conklin, Dunn is day to day with a calf injury, as is cornerback Robert Jackson with a hamstring injury, according to Stefanski.
As for the players who missed the Pittsburgh game because of COVID-19, Stefanski did not provide updates on Bitonio, cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson, and wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge, but they can return to practice on Thursday if they continue to test negative.
The same is true for Stefanski, offensive line coach Bill Callahan, tight ends coach Drew Petzing and secondary coach Jeffrey Howard.