CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will have two backup tackles protecting him Sunday against one of the NFL's nastiest defenses.
That's less than ideal.
Cleveland ruled out starting rookie right tackle Dawand Jones for this week's game at Baltimore because of shoulder and knee injuries, further depleting the Browns, who are already missing left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr.
Jones missed his third straight practice Friday and was ruled out by coach Kevin Stefanski. The loss of Jones comes after the Browns (5-3) placed Wills on injured reserve earlier this week with a knee sprain suffered in last Sunday's 27-0 win over Arizona.
Stefanski wouldn’t reveal the plans to replace Jones, but James Hudson III and Geron Christian are among his most viable options. Another would be sliding All-Pro left guard Joel Bitonio to tackle, a move he made for two games in 2021.
“We feel good about where we’re going,” Stefanski said when asked of the team's plans. “Worked hard at it and feel like we’ll continue to work through it.”
With Watson recently returning from a right shoulder injury, the Browns may have to adjust their game plan to block for their franchise QB against the AFC North-leading Ravens (7-2). Baltimore's defense leads the league with 35 sacks and has allowed just 13.8 points per game, another league best.
A fourth-round pick from Ohio State, Jones was thrown into Cleveland's starting lineup earlier than expected when Jack Conklin tore knee ligaments in the season opener. Jones, who had some conditioning issues in training camp, has played better than expected and particularly well as a pass protector.
He hurt his shoulder against Seattle on Oct. 29 and his knee last week, but Jones finished the game.
The Browns have spent the week working through combinations on their line. One of the most likely scenarios is for Hudson, who is the team's swing tackle and played last week, taking over Wills' left spot and Christian filling in for Jones.
While the 27-year-old Christian was only signed to the active roster Tuesday, he has more experience than many of Cleveland's other reserves after spending time with Washington, Houston and Kansas City.
NOTES: The Browns' secondary could get a boost if CB Greg Newsome (groin) can play. He missed last week's game, returned to practice Thursday and is listed as questionable. ... WRs Marquise Goodwin (concussion) and David Bell (knee) will both sit out.
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