FRIDAY: Both Hunt and Conklin are expected to return when first eligible. Kevin Stefanski said he anticipates each key contributor being activated and suiting up in the Browns’ pivotal Week 12 game against the Ravens on Sunday night, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. While Cleveland has 21 days to activate each player, it looks like neither will stay in IR-return limbo longer than a week.
WEDNESDAY: Two key pieces of the Browns’ offense will be back on the practice field Wednesday. The team designated Kareem Hunt and Jack Conklin to return from IR, opening their respective 21-day activation windows.
Hunt has been on Cleveland’s IR list since suffering a calf injury in Week 6. Conklin went down with a dislocated elbow in Week 8, adding a three-game absence on top of a two-game hiatus earlier this season. Both will be eligible to return Sunday, should the Browns move to activate them by Saturday afternoon’s deadline.
Despite Hunt missing extensive time and Nick Chubb being sidelined for multiple games as well, Cleveland’s vaunted rushing attack still leads the NFL. Hunt, however, was averaging 5.2 yards per carry through six games. The ex-rushing champion has topped out at 4.9 over a full season.
Hunt has experienced knee and wrist issues as well this season, and he is unlikely to be 100% again until the 2022 campaign. But Hunt returning at slightly less than 100% would certainly help a Browns team that has struggled through the air. The running back duo obviously affects the Browns’ offensive output. In five games with Chubb and Hunt active, the Browns are averaging 28.4 points and 417.6 yards per game. In the six in which either has missed, they have scored just 16.5 points per contest while averaging barely 315 yards, via ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter).
Like Hunt, Conklin is signed through the 2022 season. The Browns gave the ex-Titans right tackle a three-year, $42MM deal in 2020. His five missed games this season mark his first extended absence since 2018, when he missed nine games. The former first-round pick remains one of the NFL’s best right tackles. Pro Football Focus grades Conklin 14th among all tackles in his abbreviated 2021 slate.
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