The Browns will be without one of their top offensive linemen for at least the next three games. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that right tackle Jack Conklin has landed on injured reserve.
Conklin dislocated his elbow during last weekend’s loss to the Steelers. Fortunately, the veteran will likely avoid surgery, and there’s optimism that he’ll be able to return to the lineup later this season.
This is poor timing for the 27-year-old, as he had just returned to the lineup after recovering from a knee injury. The eighth-overall pick by the Titans in the 2016 draft joined the Browns in 2020 on a three-year, $42MM deal. He started 15 games during his first season in Cleveland, earning first-team All-Pro honors (the second of his career). He’s started each of the six games he’s appeared in during the 2021 campaign. Blake Hance will likely start at right tackle while Conklin’s out of the lineup.
The Browns are 10-4 and appear to be playoff-bound for the first time since 2002, but they suddenly find themselves thin at right guard. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), offensive lineman Chris Hubbard suffered a dislocated kneecap in Cleveland’s win over the Giants last night. Hubbard will go under the knife, and his season will be over.
Hubbard was filling in for starting RG Wyatt Teller, who sustained a sprained ankle in the Browns’ loss to the Ravens last week and who is not expected back until the playoffs, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes. Teller also missed some time earlier this season with a strained calf, and his absence is significant. The third-year blocker is playing at a Pro Bowl level and is currently Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated guard.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski said this morning that he is not prepared to rule Hubbard out for the rest of the season, and he also said he does not know if Hubbard will need surgery. However, he did confirm that the veteran O-lineman will miss a significant amount of time (Twitter link via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal).
Hubbard has not lived up to the five-year, $37.5MM deal he signed with Cleveland in March 2018, but he does offer valuable experience and depth. He has started in Teller’s absence in each of the four games that Teller has missed this season, and he also started a game at right tackle. Rookie Nick Harris will line up at right guard for the time being, and it would not be surprising to see the Browns sign a reinforcement in the coming days.
The Browns continue check off their draft list. After agreeing to terms with two picks earlier this week, the Browns signed fifth-round selection Nick Harris. A center out of Washington, Harris profiles as depth behind J.C. Tretter. However, he could also represent a candidate for upward mobility at guard. Prior to becoming the Huskies’ starting center in 2018, Harris started 17 games at guard during his freshman and sophomore years. Cleveland employs Joel Bitonio at left guard but does not feature as much certainty on the right side.