The Cleveland Browns clinched an AFC playoff spot with their convincing Week 17 victory over the New York Jets. While no one will confuse the Jets with a playoff contender, the team has a great defense and a couple of studs on offense.
For the majority of the game, that team was no match for the Browns.
Now, Cleveland fans mostly turn their attention to the postseason. While the Browns could still have a chance for the first or second seed, the fifth seed is the most likely destination.
Cleveland’s roster has been decimated with injuries and this week’s updates didn’t create a ton of optimism but there is some hope of getting some guys back that weren’t available this week:
- WR Amari Cooper
Cooper tried to give it a go against New York but wasn’t able to. Whether it is Week 18 or the playoffs, the Browns should get their top receiver back.
- LB Anthony Walker Jr.
Walker underwent surgery last week but could be available for the start of the playoffs. A vital piece of communication at the second level, Cleveland would benefit from having the veteran back and ready to go in two weeks.
- S Grant Delpit
The lone player on injured reserve that could return, Ronnie Hickman and D’Anthony Bell have played well enough in his place but Delpit is a next-level talent and vital to the defense’s success. Getting him back not only helps the defense but also helps the depth on special teams.
- DE Ogbo Okoronkwo
A very interesting situation with Okoronkwo’s pec injury. Originally reported that he would likely go on injured reserve, Cleveland has kept him on the active roster with the hope of returning. The speedy defensive end seemed to hint at his healing with this tweet:
- P Corey Bojorquez
Bojo’s absence was minimized by the offense playing very well in Week 17 and overlooked because of the injury at kicker but he’s been very good this year and would be welcomed back as soon as possible. Not having to elevate a punter from the practice squad would allow for a different position to be added to the game-day roster.
- K Dustin Hopkins
Outside of Cooper, perhaps the biggest name on this list is Hopkins. If he had not gotten injured, DHop would be in the running for Special Teams Player of the Year in 2023. Hopkins also seems to be the player on this list who is the most questionable to return for an opening-round playoff game given the timing of his injury and Stefanski’s comments.
The idea of adding these six players to Week 17’s roster has to be exciting for Cleveland fans. The Browns roster has been overwhelmed by injuries and has overcome them. Adding this kind of talent, especially after taking Week 18 off or earning a bye week, to the team that won in Week 17 is exciting.
If the Browns get all six of these guys back in time for the playoffs, do you think they are true AFC Championship contenders in 2023?