On the positive side, Newsome’s injury is not serious enough to land him on the injured reserve list, which would keep him out for a minimum of three games, and he is currently “week-to-week,” according to head coach Kevin Stefanski.
Newsome, the club’s first-round selection in this year’s draft, left the game near the end of Sunday’s victory against the Chicago Bears. While his weekly grade from Pro Football Focus has tipped a bit from a Week 1 high of 72.6 against the Kansas City Chiefs to 62.5 against the Houston Texans and 65.4 against the Bears, Newsome has more than held his own as the starter opposite Denzel Ward.
With Newsome out for the Minnesota game, the Browns will turn to Greedy Williams, who will be making his first start since missing all of the 2020 season with a nerve injury in his shoulder.
Williams played eight snaps against the Chiefs and was not good - an overall grade of 32.6 and a coverage grade of 31.5 from PFF - did not play on defense against the Texans, and filled in for the final eight plays on defense against the Bears, finishing with a grade of 90.7 from PFF as he did not allow a catch on the two times he was targeted in coverage.
Even though it is a small sample size, Williams has improved each week as he acclimates himself back to game speed, Stefanski said via a team-provided transcript:
“He has had limited reps in the games but seeing him a lot in practice, and I think he has done a nice job. Going all the way back to when he first got back out there, worked through it and got his wind back, I think you just see a guy who is continuing to get better.”
Minnesota presents a challenge in the passing game. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has eight touchdown passes and no interceptions so far this season, wide receiver Adam Thielen has four of those touchdowns, and wide receiver Justin Jefferson is coming off a game against the Seattle Seahawks where he finished with nine receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown.
Cousins will certainly test Williams early and often on Sunday, so hopefully he continues to show the improvement that Stefanski and the coaches have seen from him in practice.