The hits keep on coming for the Cleveland Browns as they try to ascend to the top of the best division in all of football.
The latest blow came Friday, November 10, when the team announced that rookie right tackle Dawand Jones will miss Sunday’s road contest against the Baltimore Ravens due to injury. Jones sat out practice all week with knee and shoulder injuries that will sideline him for at least one game, per the Browns’ official injury report.
Jones, a fourth-round rookie out of Ohio State, moved into a starting role less than halfway through his first NFL game, after Jack Conklin suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1. Cleveland also sent starting left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. to the injured reserve list (IR) this week with a knee injury of his own, meaning he will miss at least the next four games.
Browns Running Low on Offensive Linemen, Remain Quiet as to Plans Against Ravens
The Browns must now head into enemy territory to face the NFL’s second-rated defense without their top three offensive tackles — a dangerous proposition made more so by the nagging shoulder injury that has plagued starting quarterback Deshaun Watson since Week 3.
James Hudson III is the only other tackle currently on the team’s active roster and is likely to start on one side or the other. Who the Browns will move to the other tackle spot remains to be seen, and head coach Kevin Stefanski refused to divulge that information to the media during a press conference Friday.
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) November 10, 2023
“#Browns coach Kevin Stefanski won’t say who’s going to start at tackle vs. #Ravens,” Scott Petrak of Browns Zone posted on X.
“We feel good about where we’re going,” Stefanski said. “Worked hard at it.”
Browns Face Tough Task Against Elite Ravens Defense
No matter how good Stefanski and the rest of the organization actually feel about the offensive line situation heading into Sunday, it’s near a certainty that the Ravens feel better about it.
The Browns probably have the best defense in football, though if there is any other team with a legitimate claim to that title, it’s Baltimore. The Ravens rank second in the league in yards allowed at 262.6 per game, roughly 28 yards behind the Browns who are in first. But Baltimore is affording opponents just 13.8 points per contest, which is the best mark in the NFL.
The Ravens have forced 13 turnovers this season and lead the league with 35 sacks. Cleveland’s deficiency at the tackle spot will open up more opportunities for Baltimore’s pass rushers to get home against Watson, and more sacks means a higher possibility of turnovers.
The Browns will need to be deliberate in their offensive game plan this week, focusing on running the football to control the clock — which they have done about as well as anyone in the NFL through the first half of the season — and relying on their own ex-ceptional defense to slow down a high-powered Ravens attack.