CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Browns defense took a giant step forward on Monday, as several key players returned to practice.
Starting linebacker Mack Wilson (knee), starting cornerback Greedy Williams (shoulder) and nickel cornerback Kevin Johnson (liver) were back on the field after missing the first two games of the season.
During their absence, the Browns defense gave up 38 points to a talented Ravens offense led by MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson in the season opener, and 30 points to a Bengals offense led by rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.
Now the question is, does Greedy jump back into the starting lineup in place of Terrance Mitchell, who has played well?
“It’s a good problem for us, to have guys that we have confidence in to play,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said on Monday. “We’ll work through that as Greedy’s health becomes apparent to us.”
Johnson, who was having a strong training camp before suffering a lacerated liver when a tight end landed on him during a red zone drill, said he originally thought he just had the wind knocked out of him, before realizing it was something worse.
Johnson says he spent two days in the hospital.
“It was definitely an unusual situation,” Johnson says. “I was thinking a lot of things. I was just hoping for the best.”
As for Wilson, who is one of the leaders of this defense, he admits that, before the MRI on his knee, he thought he was done for the season. But once he realized he wasn’t, he was determined to beat the clock on his return.
“I’ve been working extremely hard every day, doing all the right things,” Wilson says. “They thought 6-8 weeks. I knew I’d be back sooner than 6-8 weeks.”
While crediting the backups who filled in through the first two games, Wilson says the return of the starters will give the defense “a huge spark”.
The Browns offense also saw a starter return on Monday, as right tackle Jack Conklin (ankle) also was back on the field. Chris Hubbard played well in Conklin’s place on Thursday.