The Cleveland Browns placed kick returner Jakeem Grant Sr. on the injured reserve list on Wednesday.
Grant, who was signed in the offseason to provide a boost to the return game, suffered a torn Achilles tendon while participating in a drill during Tuesday’s practice. While there was some initial hope that the injury was not serious, an MRI proved otherwise and Grant will undergo surgery and his first season with the Browns is over before it began, according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.
We have placed WR Jakeem Grant on injured reserve— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 10, 2022
The Browns signed Grant as a free agent in the offseason in an attempt to boost their anemic return game. The seventh-year veteran was coming off a Pro Bowl appearance in addition to being a Second-Team All-Pro selection in 2021. With six career touchdowns on kick returns, Grant is the kind of difference maker on special teams that everyone in the league would love to have on the roster.
Related: Who is going to return kicks now?
His injury now forces the Browns to hit reset on the return game, with the currently available options for special teams coordinator Mike Priefer being running backs Demetric Felton and D’Ernest Johnson, or wide receivers Anthony Schwartz and Donovan Peoples-Jones, taking over return duties.
In other words, the same group of players that led general manager Andrew Berry to sign Grant in the first place.
Jakeem's field vision being likened to Devin Hester means good things to come pic.twitter.com/8FTtZVJ5B0— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 7, 2022
It is interesting to see that the Browns called Grant a wide receiver in the announcement about his injury. While he has been taking practice reps with the offense, his loss may not have a deep impact on the passing game.
Grant has only had more than 20 receptions in a season twice in his seven-year career, with a career-high of 36 receptions in 2020, so how much time he would have seen in the regular season as a receiver is open to debate.
The Browns still have wide receivers Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and rookie David Bell as the likely top three receivers, along with tight ends David Njoku and Harrison Bryant, and (for now) running back Kareem Hunt, so there should still be enough options for whoever quarterbacks the team this fall to find success.
Grant’s loss on special teams is far more worrisome as the Browns are now back to trying to solve the puzzle with just a month to go before the regular season begins against the Carolina Panthers on September 11.