The Cleveland Browns have a big chance to make a big statement in Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season. Facing the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road on Monday Night Football after putting a whooping on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 is a perfect recipe to put the league on notice.
Unfortunately, WR Amari Cooper is likely to miss the game due to a groin injury. The Browns top receiver is listed as questionable after getting hurt in Saturday’s practice.
Last week, Cooper had just three receptions for 37 yards in a rain-impacted game. Last year, the former Alabama Crimson Tide star led Cleveland with 1,160 yards receiving in his first season with the team.
Using a line from the movie “Moneyball,” the Browns are going to look to replace Cooper in the aggregate:
Cleveland can’t replace Cooper directly but, thankfully, football allows for even more aggregation than baseball, basketball and fantasy football. Especially if HC Kevin Stefanski continues to draw up plays to get receivers open and relies on RB Nick Chubb as he did in Week 1.
The first two names up are Elijah Moore (added via a trade) and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Moore provides the electric route running of Cooper while DPJ gives QB Deshaun Watson a sizeable target to throw to. Those two, along with TE David Njoku and Chubb, would be a part of the game plan whether Cooper played or not.
Thankfully, GM Andrew Berry spent the offseason adding depth to the weapons around Watson. Speedster Marquise Goodwin (free agency) can help offset the loss of big play ability from Cooper while rookie Cedric Tillman (NFL draft) presents a large target with good hands in the middle of the field and on fades and back shoulder throws near the sidelines.
While Browns fans might be down on second-year pro David Bell, Watson trusts him to be in the right spots at the right time. He may be an important target on third downs and redzone plays when/if the game gets tight.
Add on top of all of them TE Jordan Akins (free agency) and RB Jerome Ford.
While no one player on Cleveland’s roster can replace Cooper, Berry has given Stefanski enough versatility in the skill position rooms to make an impact. Against a good Steelers defense, it is up to Stefanski and Watson to put the pass catchers in position to succeed and up to that group to actually make it happen on Monday Night Football.
Who do you think steps up if Cooper misses tonight? How would his absence impact how you expect the game to go? Share with your fellow Browns fans in our comment section at the bottom.