CLEVELAND (AP)The Browns finally had something go their way on the injury front.
Starting linebacker Mack Wilson does not need surgery for his hyperextended left knee and is expected to play this season, a much-needed, positive development for a team that has been roughed up by injuries in training camp.
Wilson hurt his knee while breaking up a pass on Aug. 18. He was carted off the field and there was fear the second-year linebacker from Alabama might be done for the 2020 season. But after getting a second medical opinion, an operation was ruled out.
First-year coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed Tuesday that Mack will return at some point. There is no definitive timetable on when he’ll be on the field.
”With all of our guys, you hate to see them go out and then you hope it’s always good news when they go out,” Stefanski said. ”When (head trainer) Joe (Sheehan) sidles over to me, I always hope it’s good news, so this is a good development for Mack.”
The Browns have had numerous injuries – some of them serious – in the first couple of weeks of camp. Rookie starting safety Grant Delpit tore his right Achilles tendon and is out for the year. Also, nickel back Kevin Johnson was hospitalized after his liver was lacerated from contact during practice.
Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb missed a few days with a concussion, starting center JC Tretter remains sidelined following knee surgery on the eve of camp and starting cornerback Greedy Williams has been slowed by a shoulder injury.
There have been numerous other bumps and bruises, and Stefanski conceded that was a concern with a condensed camp.
”We were very mindful as we put the plan together about that very sentiment and wanted to make sure that we did this safely and had an acclimation period,” Stefanski said. ”Also, we fully recognize that injuries are part of this game.”
Star defensive end Myles Garrett returned to the field Tuesday after being rested for a day with an unspecified right wrist problem. Stefanski insists the team is being overly cautious with its best defensive player, who had a large wrap on his wrist as practice began.
Garrett, who sat out Sunday’s workout at FirstEnergy Stadium, did a few reps before peeling off black tape and tossing the brace to a trainer.
Garrett took part in most of the individual drills during the early portion of practice open to the media. He sat out a pass-rush drill where the linemen strike blows on heavy bags.
The No. 1 draft pick in 2017 missed the first five practices of training camp with a hamstring issue, but has looked like himself for the past week.
Starting left guard Joel Bitonio said going against Garrett helps all the lineman get better.
”He’s a great player. He’s one of the top rushers in this league and anytime you’re going to battle him you’re going to learn things, but we have other good rushers on our team,” Bitonio said. ”It’s good to get those looks and good to feel that speed, because he has more speed than most edge rushers you’re going to face.”
Wilson’s loss has put more stress on a rebuilt Cleveland linebacking group, which lost veterans Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey as free agents this winter.
Sione Takitaki has moved into Wilson’s spot temporarily and rookie Jacob Phillips, a third-round pick from LSU, has been getting more work than expected.
Stefanski hasn’t ruled out Tretter, the NFLPA President, from playing in the opener on Sept. 13 at Baltimore.
”He’s progressing,” Stefanski said. ”We really want to use every single one of these days to our advantage and I think the prudent thing would be to wait till next week to really check in to say whether he’s going to make it for that first game or not. I’m really worried about him today more so than next week.”
When asked if Tretter could practice this week, Stefanski said, ”we’ll see.”
Rookie fifth-round pick Nick Harris has been with the first-team offense since camp opened.
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