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Injuries lead to opportunities

Posted Aug 16, 2013

Injuries to five players led to opportunities for younger players to get on-field experience against a high level of competition in the Browns’ preseason win over the Detroit Lions.

The Cleveland Browns had five players leave Thursday’s 24-6 preseason victory over the Detroit Lions, but with those injuries came opportunities for the team’s youngest players to get on-field experience against a high level of competition.

“Injuries are a part of football,” coach Rob Chudzinski said. “You have to deal with them, and it creates opportunities for other guys to step up, and if you have the kind of environment and leadership of people that embrace those guys and help them be successful, you can continue to get better.

“We are finding some guys that exemplify our identity and that’s what we want to do, establish our identity on the football field. Getting a chance to evaluate our players and our team, and put our team together in the best manner we can, I can think of some things last night that we did well. We were efficient, ball security was good, and the guys came to play. I like the effort that I’m seeing.”

On running back Trent Richardson’s 17-yard scamper in the first quarter, the Browns lost right guard Jason Pinkston to a high-ankle sprain. Richardson ran into offensive lineman John Greco, who then fell backwards into the back of Pinkston’s right leg.

With Pinkston, who had fought his way back from blood clots that cost him 10 games last season, out for the remainder of the game, the Browns called upon rookie Garrett Gilkey to slide into the lineup with the first-team offense. By entering the game with the first-team offense, Gilkey competed against Detroit defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.

“I was pleased with what he did last night for coming into the situation he came in against the guy he had to face,” Chudzinski said. “It was quite a challenge for him. He’s not Joe DeLamielleure yet, but he’s made big improvements over the course of time that he’s been here. That was a good situation.

“We’re seeing that at a number of places, a number of different positions where some young guys are getting really good opportunities to play against good competition and snaps that are important early in the game.”

In addition to Gilkey, the Browns got an extended look at running backs Chris Ogbonnaya and Brandon Jackson. On a six-yard carry in the third quarter, running back Dion Lewis suffered a broken fibula that will require surgery.

In Lewis’ absence, Jackson carried the ball seven times, and caught three passes out of the backfield, including a 14-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, while Ogbonnaya accounted for seven yards on two rushes.

Ogbonnaya had previously spent most of training camp working at fullback.

“Obie’s a versatile guy that can do both,” Chudzinski said of Ogbonnaya. “I don’t see him as a guy we’ll only put at one spot or the other. I still think his skill set gives us something we can utilize. I don’t really see that changing him where he’d go to strictly one position.

“Brandon Jackson really had some nice plays in the game last night. There are still a number of guys that are still there that we’ll play and we’ll work.”

TAKING STEPS

The Browns outgained the Lions, 313 to 217, in total yards, had more first downs, 19 to 13, and held an advantage in time of possession in the victory. Although the Browns committed six penalties for 49 lost yards, including one that negated Travis Benjamin’s 84-yard punt-return touchdown, Chudzinski felt the team “took another step” in their development.

“We’ve played well in all three phases,” Chudzinski said. “The past two games, obviously, we have a lot of work to do and improvements to make, but it will be good to get a chance and watch tape with our guys. It doesn’t count in the standings in the preseason as I mentioned last night. We want to keep this in perspective, but we are working to develop winning habits and hopefully, these things will help us during the course of the season.”

INJURY UPDATES

In addition to the injuries to Lewis and Pinkston, the Browns lost outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo (bruised lung), tight end Gary Barnidge (sprained shoulder), and kicker Brandon Bogotay (strained groin) in the win over Detroit.

Mingo will remain in the hospital Friday night for observation, while Barnidge and Bogotay are day-to-day.

Punter T.J. Conley (strained groin) and wide receiver David Nelson (knee) are also making progress and listed as day-to-day.

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