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Notes: Nick Chubb expects tough, physical Steelers defense despite absence of Cam Heyward

BEREA — Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s scouting report of the Browns starts with running back Nick Chubb. If the Steelers are going to slow down the four-time Pro Bowl rusher Monday night in Pittsburgh, they’ll have to do it without three-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Cameron Heyward.

He was placed on injured reserve Thursday and is expected to miss two months following groin surgery.

“He’s definitely a big player for them, but I’m sure those guys will be pumped up coming off a loss like that,” Chubb said, referring to Pittsburgh’s 30-7 opener against the 49ers at home. “I’m sure they’ll be ready to go against us no matter who’s out there.”

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Coach Kevin Stefanski said he didn’t think it was possible to quantify the loss of Heyward, who has 78.5 sacks and 115 tackles for loss in his 13-year career.

“I’m sure you don’t replace him with one person,” Stefanski said. “They added to their depth along the front in the offseason, so I think it’ll be multiple guys. He’s a great, great player. We’ve played against him many times. Got a ton of respect for him.”

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The same is true for Tomlin and Chubb.

“If you’re talking about the Cleveland Browns, it starts with Mr. Chubb,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “The way he controls the game, he keeps them on schedule, he controls the climate.”

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Chubb rushed 18 times for 106 yards, a 5.9 average, in the opening 24-3 win over the Bengals, adding four catches for 21 yards.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that Mr. Chubb is a big part of our attack, a big part of what we do,” Stefanski said. “But we feel really good about a bunch of different guys.”

In 10 games against the Steelers, including the playoffs, Chubb has rushed 159 times for 729 yards, a 4.6 average and two touchdowns. He has two 100-yard games and has been held below his career average of 5.3 yards a rush. Chubb has averaged 97.3 yards in the four wins and 56.7 in the five losses and tie.

“They’re always big, physical and very tough and they play hard,” he said. “That’s something that hasn’t changed since I’ve been here and something that we look forward to going up against.”

His opinion didn’t change after the Steelers allowed San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey to rush 22 times for 152 yards, a 6.9 average and a 65-yard touchdown.

“Honestly, I thought the Steelers did a good job,” Chubb said. “They were always in the right place, just let him slip by them a little bit. They’re definitely a great front, great defense overall.”


Safety Juan Thornhill (calf) continued to miss practice, and the Browns were without all three backup defensive tackles.

Shelby Harris (Achilles), Maurice Hurst (hamstring) and rookie Siaki Ika (foot) didn’t practice. Harris and Hurst worked on the side, and Ika wasn’t on the field during the portion of practice open to reporters. Hurst left the game Sunday but returned.

Trysten Hill and Tommy Togiai are on the practice squad if needed.

Thornhill didn’t practice last Thursday and Friday and was inactive for the opener after being listed as questionable and testing the calf before the game.

“I would characterize it as day-to-day,” Stefanski said. “We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”

** Left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. (foot) was limited.

** Defensive end Myles Garrett, left guard Joel Bitonio, receiver Amari Cooper and linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. rested.

** For the Steelers, receiver Diontae Johnson (hamstring) and running back/kick returner Anthony McFarland Jr. (knee) didn’t practice. Right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor (concussion), right guard James Daniels (ankle), tight end Pat Freiermuth (chest) and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (foot) were limited.


The season-ending torn Achilles tendon of Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered Monday night on the MetLife Stadium turf reignited the debate over whether grass fields should be mandated. The union has been outspoken the last couple of years that grass has proved to be much better for the health of the players.

“If I had a preference, I would definitely take grass,” quarterback Deshaun Watson said. “It’s a little bit more giving, forgiving on the knees and the ankles and things like that.

“The injury with A-Rod, that’s tough. Not just for the Jets but for the NFL. That was a great storyline to have him in New York and they had a great team and he was going to do special things and I’m a fan of him. So I’m sending my prayers towards him. But if I had to pick, I’d pick grass for sure.”


Right guard Wyatt Teller’s block of Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt that went for more than 20 yards and ended in a pancake was a highlight of the film session.

“It motivates the team,” Watson said. “Everyone saw it. Everyone was hyped for Wyatt and it just challenges everyone else around to finish plays like that.

“Wyatt is a guy that’s going to finish to the T and he’s going to make sure he throws his body around for this organization, for these guys that’s carrying the ball and myself. We love that guy and just make sure you just stay healthy while he’s doing that, too. But outside of that, keep doing it.”


Walker opened his interview by noting he’s a brand ambassador for the organization’s Stay in the Game Foundation that focuses on increasing school attendance.

“Something I’m very passionate about obviously is education, my dad’s an educator,” he said. “Actually I had 100 percent attendance until I got to college. Just the importance of showing up every day and the skills that you learn from that, being there every day, being attentive in school to your teachers and then those social skills you learn with being around your other teammates and classmates.”

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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