The Browns earned a lopsided win in Week 9, but it came at a cost on the injury front. Left tackle Jedrick Wills was carted off the field during Cleveland’s win over Arizona, and he will be sidelined for an extended stretch.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski said on Monday that Wills has been diagnosed with an MCL sprain, an ailment which is not expected to be season-ending. However, the Browns’ blindside protector will be placed on injured reserve. That move will guarantee at least a four-week absence. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero adds that a PCL sprain and bone bruise will set his recovery timeline at roughly six weeks, although Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports surgery is not expected in this case.
Wills had an air cast fitted on his right leg before being taken off the field, a sign his injury would be serious. Further testing has confirmed those fears, and Cleveland will now need to make a change along the O-line. The Browns are already without starting right tackle Jack Conklin, who suffered an ACL tear in Week 1. Fourth-round rookie Dawand Jones has taken over the RT spot in his absence, and another new starter will need to be found opposite him for at least the time being.
Wills, 24, entered the league with major expectations in 2020. The former top-10 pick has been a full-time starter since his arrival, but his performances to date have drawn criticism. In spite of that, the Browns have remained confident in growth by picking up his fifth-year option, a decision which will keep him on the books through 2024. Stefanski endorsed the Alabama product before the start of the 2023 campaign, one in which he has posted a career-worst PFF grade (54). Wills has been charged with three sacks and 29 pressures allowed through eight games this year.
Cleveland’s offensive line – a unit which has for years been seen as a strength for the team – has helped pave the way for the Browns’ effective, Nick Chubb-less running game in 2023. They rank third in the league in rushing yards per game, but another loss among the starting unit up front could deal a blow to that success. Bringing Wills back will use up one of Cleveland’s eight remaining IR activations.