With less than three weeks to go before their first regular season game, the Cleveland Browns continue to deal with the injury bug.
Centers Nick Harris and Dawson Deaton are both out for the year with knee injuries, while wide receiver Michael Woods II won’t play in the team’s last preseason game because of a hamstring ailment.
Of course, the Browns are also dealing with a different type of unavailability, as quarterback Deshaun Watson has been suspended by the NFL for the first 11 games of the season due to his sexual misconduct allegations.
Cleveland is somewhat thin right now at multiple positions, and on Thursday, it had to ensure an injury scare that could’ve downgraded its situation from bad to catastrophic.
Jacoby Brissett, its QB2 who will be presumably filling in for Watson, was seen holding his hand after throwing a pass during an 11-on-11 drill in practice.
While following through on his pass, his hand made contact with a teammate’s helmet, and for a moment, it looked like he had sustained an injury that would’ve forced him to miss significant time.
It was enough to make head coach Kevin Stefanski livid for a minute.
“I was seeing red for a minute there,” Stefanski told reporters on Thursday. “It is a rule [not to contact the quarterback]. Our guys have done an awesome job all camp of staying away from the quarterback, and we just have to continue to do a good job there.”
Luckily, Brissett appeared to be fine, but with the luck the Browns have been having, it probably wouldn’t have surprised observers if he actually had gotten injured.
Brissett May Not Be Great, But He has Filled In For A Star Before
Brissett, who is entering his seventh season, isn’t exactly the most attractive or exciting option to replace Watson while he’s forced to sit out.
Many Browns fans may want the team to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo, who would be a much more proven and solid option, but there is no indication it has any interest in him at the moment.
Brissett has a career completion percentage of just 60.2 percent and a career passer rating of 83.0, but it was something that happened during his rookie season that may make him just barely adequate enough for the situation that lies before him.
He broke into the NFL in 2016 with the New England Patriots, the same year Tom Brady was suspended for his involvement in the Deflategate scandal.
Ironically, Garoppolo was their QB2 at the time, and after he suffered a serious shoulder injury during Week 2, Brissett stepped up and took over as their starting QB.
They won that contest over the Miami Dolphins, and with Brissett getting his first career start in Week 3, New England improved to 3-0 on the season by defeating the Houston Texans 27-0.
— Yianni Kourakis (@WPBF_Yianni) September 23, 2016
Going through some designed QB runs the #Patriots have used in recent history to see what kind of concepts we could see if NE decided to experiment with a mobile QB.
Starting with then-rookie Jacoby Brissett's first career start vs the Texans in 2016 pic.twitter.com/U1bID8xvou
— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) March 24, 2020
He did not throw a single touchdown pass in the three games he appeared in that season, and he didn’t play in the postseason as the Patriots won the Super Bowl, but being a part of that championship culture gave him some invaluable experience.
The Browns may not need Brissett to amaze people while he’s filling in for Watson, but he does need to help the team post a winning record, or at least something close to that so that when Watson returns, they will be within striking distance of a playoff spot.