Seven Cleveland Browns players have officially been listed as questionable to play in Sunday’s Wild Card Round playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a combination of injuries and illnesses, in addition to the players that will miss the game while in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol.
Right tackle Jack Conklin (knee and illness), defensive end Myles Garrett (shoulder), cornerback Terrance Mitchell (not injury related), wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones (concussion), defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (neck), cornerback M.J. Stewart (calf) and right guard Wyatt Teller (ankle) are all listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski said that he’s confident that Garrett and Richardson will be able to play for the Cleveland defensive line and that Peoples-Jones was cleared to return to practice on Friday for the first time since suffering a concussion in the teams’ Week 17 game on Sunday.
The availability trouble spots for the Browns appear to be on the offensive line and in the secondary.
Left guard Joel Bitonio will miss the game after testing positive for COVID-19. With backups Chris Hubbard and Nick Harris on injured reserve, Michael Dunn is expected to start at left guard.
Dunn, 26, is in his fourth season of professional football, having spent time with the Los Angeles Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Birmingham Iron of the AAF, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Dragons of the XFL before joining the Browns this offseason, but had never played in an NFL game before the 2020 season.
Since first being elevated to the active roster on Nov. 14, Dunn has appeared in six games for Cleveland, but has played just one snap of offense, with the rest of his appearances coming on special teams.
If Teller is unable to play at right guard, Cleveland’s top backup is former Jaguars draft pick Blake Hance, who the team signed on Thursday. Hance has never played an NFL game. At tackle, experienced backup Kendall Lamm would start if Conklin cannot play.
In the secondary, starting cornerback Denzel Ward will be eligible to come off the COVID-19 reserve list on Saturday, but Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods said that it’s unclear if he will.
Backup Kevin Johnson will miss the game while on the COVID list, so if Mitchell and Stewart are unable to play, third-year pro Robert Jackson may once again be called on to play a large role. A regular special teams contributor, Jackson played 67 snaps of defense on Sunday against the Steelers after playing just six the entire rest of the season
Starting safety Ronnie Harrison, Jr. will also miss the game while on the COVID-19 list, along with reserve safety Jovante Moffat. West Virginia grad Karl Joseph will likely start in place of Harrison.