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Notes: David Njoku ruled out for Texans game with knee injury

BEREA — Tight end David Njoku will have to wait to follow up the best catch of his career.

Njoku was ruled out Friday after missing practice all week with a knee injury and won’t play Sunday vs. the Texans (1-9-1) in Houston. The rest of the Browns (4-7) are expected to play.

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“Obviously it’s extremely tough, no matter the circumstances really, to miss a game, especially when you’re having a great year,” said Harrison Bryant, who will take Njoku’s place in the starting lineup. “So we’re all talking to him, keeping him up and obviously he’s working really hard to be back as fast as possible. I’m not sure exactly what is wrong with it, but he’s going to be back ready to go soon and keep playing well.”


Njoku kept the Browns’ playoff hopes alive last week with a leaping left-handed touchdown catch on fourth down that tied the game with 32 seconds left in regulation. The Browns prevailed 23-17 over Tampa Bay in overtime.

Njoku finished the game, but coach Kevin Stefanski said the injury occurred late.

Njoku returned the previous week vs. Buffalo after missing two games with a high ankle sprain. In nine games he has 41 catches for 464 yards, an 11.3 average and two touchdowns.

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Bryant and Pharaoh Brown will get more playing time in his absence. They could be prime targets in quarterback Deshaun Watson’s first game with the Browns.

“I know just in the past watching games where he was playing, he did target his tight ends, they had some good tight ends there,” Bryant said. “So whatever opportunities we’re presented this weekend in the tight end room, we’re going to go out there and try to make the most of all of them.”

Bryant came up empty on two touchdown opportunities Nov. 20 against the Bills. He had a drop, then didn’t get his second foot inbounds.

He’s eager for more opportunities to make big plays.

“I’m always extremely excited to get more opportunities and just looking to go out there and make the most of them and do whatever I can to help the team win,” Bryant said.


Cornerback Greg Newsome II will be back in action Sunday after missing two games with a concussion. He was injured Nov. 18 in a collision with a teammate in practice, returned to the field Wednesday and was a full participant Thursday and Friday.

“I feel great,” he said.

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It’s the second concussion he sustained in practice in two seasons but said he won’t change his all-out style.

No. 1 corner Denzel Ward (ankle/hamstring) returned to practice Friday after sitting out Thursday. Backup corner A.J. Green will also be available after leaving the Bucs game in the second quarter and spending time in the concussion protocol.

The Browns will be at full strength in the secondary for one of the few games this season.

“The most healthy teams are the most successful teams, so it’s definitely going to be huge for all of us to get back out there,” Newsome said.

** The Texans ruled out receiver Brandin Cooks (calf) and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (hamstring). Running back Rex Burkhead (concussion) was listed as questionable.


Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was the No. 1 overall pick of the Texans in 2014 and spent five years with them, going to three Pro Bowls and collecting 29 sacks.

“It’s special because that’s the team that drafted me and first gave me an opportunity in the National Football League,” he said. “Just looking forward to going back and trying to get another win for the team here.

“Being back in that building, being back in that facility, it’s going to be a change for me. I’ve never been in the guest locker room, so I’ll see how that looks.”

Clowney, who still lives in Houston in the offseason, is as healthy as he’s been in months. He had a half-sack last week to give him two for the year.

“Just getting started earlier in games is big for me,” he said. “I feel like I had a great week of preparation. I’m looking forward to a big game for myself up front.”


Quarterbacks coach Drew Petzing was asked his favorite part of coaching Jacoby Brissett.

“That would be a long list,” he said. “He’s been a lot of fun to coach and to just get to know as a person. He loves the game of football, he loves to talk about it, he loves to work at it, he loves the leadership aspect of it.

“And I think as a coach, when you get a player like that, it’s really fun. Because obviously if you chose to do this for a living as a coach, it’s something you really enjoy and can connect with the players on. So I think there’s a number of other things, but that’s definitely something that stood out to me in terms of our relationship and getting to know him and work with him.”


The NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign is back this week, and 33 Browns players will raise awareness through specially designed shoes.

Newsome’s cause is women empowerment.

“Obviously as you guys know, women’s sports and just women equality is huge for me,” he said. “I didn’t want to just necessarily do a women’s sports one, I wanted to do a broad topic that can apply to women’s jobs in all avenues.”

Left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. will represent Animal Justice and the Cleveland Animal Protective League. He got one of his two dogs from the pound.

“I just think it’s good to speak up for animals,” he said. “We have a lot of problem with that in the world right now, there’s too many dogs, some are getting killed. I think it’s good to have a voice for those who can’t.”

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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