Two key Browns players are expected to miss some extended time while they deal with injuries suffered during the recent training camp practices.
Left guard Kevin Zeitler left practice on Wednesday with a calf injury and didn’t practice on Thursday. After practice on Thursday, head coach Hue Jackson said the veteran lineman will be out “for a little while”. Multiple reports have said that he’s expected to miss two weeks.
Defensive tackle Trevon Coley suffered a high ankle sprain on Thursday and Jackson told reporters on Friday following the team’s Orange and Brown scrimmage that “He’s going to be down for a little while.” Some have said Coley could also miss two weeks but when Myles Garrett suffered a high ankle sprain last September, it sidelined him for four weeks. It’ll likely depend on the severity of the sprain.
For the Zeitler injury, the Browns shuffled the offensive line earlier this week when they slid Joel Bitonio from left guard to left tackle while inserting rookie Austin Corbett to left guard.
Now the team has to insert third year lineman Spencer Drango as the right guard, a position he is somewhat familiar with as he started four games at that position during his rookie year in 2016.
Last season he started nine games at left tackle when Joe Thomas went down with a season-ending injury.
With the team trying to put the best five offensive lineman on the field to build that chemistry to get them ready for the regular season, having Zeitler go down with an injury is not what they wanted but it’s next man up and they have to prepare Drango for the time being.
As for the Coley injury, he was currently projected as one of the two starting defensive tackles alongside Larry Ogunjobi. Coley played and started in 15 games last season and had 41 tackles, 2 sacks and a fumble recovery after making the team out of camp after being cut by both Washington and Baltimore during the 2016 season.
Behind them is veteran Jamie Meder and second year player Caleb Brantley who has also been dealing with injuries early in camp.
All eyes are now on Ogunjobi at that position as many are expecting him to break out this upcoming season with Danny Shelton traded to New England during the offseason and people being unsure about the position.
The Browns could also look to bringing in a defensive tackle as there is question marks about the depth at the position especially with Brantley also dealing with injury problems. The team has $65 million in cap space and there is a free agent available who could come in and contribute.
Johnathan Hankins, who was most recently with the Indianapolis Colts last season is still available. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 25th ranked defensive lineman after getting 44 tackles and 2 sacks in 15 games last season. He’s still only 26 years old and could help an NFL team.
The Browns should be okay with having Zeitler out for a few weeks but they should strongly consider bringing Hankins in to add some depth at the defensive tackle and someone who could make an immediate impact.