Injuries have been a hot topic in the National Football League since the beginning of training camp through the second week of the preseason. The Cleveland Browns are certainly no exception. Thursday night, the Browns had 19 players out in the 11-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
The Browns got a couple of key additions to their offense back on the practice field for a light workout on Saturday morning. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and rookie running back Duke Johnson practiced for the first time in a couple of weeks. Both players missed over two weeks of action dealing with hamstring injuries.
“If I can try to remember – I think I was just running,” Bowe said. “We were doing a lot of running. My muscle just got tired. It felt like everybody else. I am feeling better. They treated it. Looking good.”
“I have no idea,” Johnson said. “I was running and I felt something, and we took precautionary reasons and they sat me out until I healed. “Yeah, I feel good, we are still going to work our way into it, slowly but surely.”
It’s hard to predict how much practice time both Bowe and Johnson will get over the next week. The Browns practice on Sunday and Monday before an off day on Tuesday. No matter how much work they get, the important thing is they are back on the practice field.
“It’s helpful, it’s nice. We’ll see how many of them go tomorrow,” head coach Mike Pettine said. “We’ve had some of the injured guys in the walk through but not sure the list that will get back out there tomorrow when we’re at it full speed in pads. When you talk about your team on paper, preseason there comes a time where you have to put that unit out there together in practice and practice together and feel that shared experience of learning the system on the field, there’s no substitute for that. It will be good to get those guys back and we’ll be much closer to the lineup that we’re going to trout out there opening day.”
The Browns will conduct their dress rehearsal for the regular season next Saturday night when they travel to Tampa Bay to face number one overall pick Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers. Browns fans hope both Bowe and Johnson will make their Cleveland debuts then.
“I should. I am working up to it,” Bowe said. “I think right now they just want to see what I can do without pushing it or straining it anymore. I feel good enough to play, but it is all up to them.”
“Do I think I can play? I think I can,” Johnson said. “It all depends on how it goes. We are taking it day-by-day. I will leave that up to the medical staff.”
Pettine would like to see both Bowe and Johnson suit up and play next week against the Buccaneers for different reasons. The coaching staff wants to see Bowe working with both quarterbacks Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel. As for Johnson it’s important for him to play for a different reason.
“He looked really good for us when we were in shorts throughout the spring,” Pettine said. “He needs some live reps. That’s asking a lot of a rookie to put him out there week one with minimal full speed, full contact reps with the particular units. This is a big week, these next two weeks are big for Duke.”
The Browns are a still a banged up football team. 13 players were held out of Saturday’s light practice including Joe Haden, Barkevious Mingo, Tashaun Gipson and Terrelle Pryor. While the coaching staff expects players like Haden to be ready for the regular season, Pryor needs to return to practice soon or else his chances of making the roster goes bye bye.
“As I’ve said before, he’s not guaranteed a spot,” Pettine said. “He’s got to play and that window narrows every day he’s not out there. “I know he’s getting close but until he’s out there taking those reps- the good thing about it he’s been very engaged mentally, he knows what to do. That’s just part of it he’s got to show it, physically.”