The return game of the Cleveland Browns took a major hit on Tuesday after kick returner Jakeem Grant Jr. suffered a torn Achilles tendon.
Grant was taken off the practice field in a cart after being injured during a one-on-one drill after landing on his left leg while attempting to catch a pass. This is the second time in his career that Grant has injured his Achilles, with the prior one coming in Week 10 of the 2018 season. His Achilles was not completely torn that time, according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, but he still had surgery to repair the injury.
Another WR down for the #Browns.— John Sabol (@John_Sabol) August 9, 2022
Jakeem Grant getting carted off with a left lower left leg injury. Injury occurred during 1-on-1 drills. WR room just can’t catch a break. Tough blow for Grant who was having a great camp.@fox8news pic.twitter.com/ZSnfc5Exmu
Head coach Kevin Stefanski later confirmed the injury, which will likely knock Grant out for the season (quote via clevelandbrowns.com):
“I really feel awful for Jakeem. We’ve witnessed how hard the young man has worked since he got to our team. We all realize injuries are a part of our game but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept especially for someone that works as hard and carries himself like Jakeem.”
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 is searching for.
It was just on Sunday that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer was hyping up Grant’s impact on the return game (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“I think he is a phenomenal returner. I do not think he takes the hits a lot of guys take because of his stature, but his quickness and his center of gravity, he has got great vision. (Former Bears WR-KR-PR) Devin Hester, one of his strengths – he was one of the greatest of all time in my opinion – he had that tremendous vision like most great returners have. I think Jakeem has that vision. He understands the game. He understands situational football. That is the element that he brings, along with his athletic ability.”
The Browns are now back to square one when it comes to the return game, with the current options being running backs Demetric Felton and D’Ernest Johnson, or wide receivers Anthony Schwartz and Donovan Peoples-Jones taking over return duties.
Which is the same group of players which led the Browns to seek out Grant in free agency in the first place.