With rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the concussion protocol, coach Kevin Stefanski may have a decision to make about who will start Sunday against the Rams in Los Angeles.
Stefanski’s not ready to make it. The choices are P.J. Walker and Joe Flacco.
“We’ll work through all that this week,” Stefanski said Monday. “We have P.J., we have Joe if Dorian’s not available.”
Thompson-Robinson was injured late in the third quarter Sunday during the 29-12 loss to the Broncos. Linebacker Baron Browning drilled him in the right shoulder, and Browning’s helmet hit Thompson-Robinson in the chin, drawing a 15-yard penalty.
Thompson-Robinson has made only three starts and really struggled in his first one — a 28-3 loss to the Ravens on Oct. 1 — when he didn’t have the entire week to prepare as the starter. Stefanski was asked if there was a day this week in which Thompson-Robinson would have to return to practice in order to start against the Rams.
“Hard to say. I’m going to let the protocol play out,” Stefanski said.
He also wouldn’t say how practice repetitions would be divided between Flacco and Walker if Thompson-Robinson isn’t available Wednesday.
Walker replaced Thompson-Robinson vs. the Broncos and has started twice this year. Flacco, who’s started nearly 200 games and won a Super Bowl, was signed to the practice squad last Monday and wasn’t active vs. the Broncos. He was added when Deshaun Watson was lost for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
Flacco practiced for the first time Wednesday and spent the week throwing to the practice squad receivers and tight ends during the early individual periods of practice open to reporters.
“He works very hard at it,” Stefanski said of Flacco trying to catch up. “P.J. went through a very similar thing where you get here and it’s a crash course and you spend extra time with the playbook and with the coaches and get up to speed as quickly as you can.
“We’ll see where this week goes based on, obviously, Dorian’s health.”
Walker went 1-1 as the starter and also came off the bench to beat the Colts. But he’s committed seven turnovers and completed 48.6 percent.
Flacco is 6-foot-6 and 38 years old and doesn’t move like Watson, Thompson-Robinson or Walker, so the offense and play calling would have to be adjusted.
“It just goes back to any player at any position, you play to their strengths,” Stefanski said. “Offensively you have to be able to win in a variety of ways. So we will always just play to the strengths of the quarterback.”
Stefanski was criticized for having his quarterbacks throw 42 times against the Broncos compared with 24 runs. Thompson-Robinson threw 20 passes in the first half to 14 total runs.
“You have a plan for things that they’re going to do and then sometimes they show you things that you have to adjust,” said Stefanski, who calls the plays. “We felt like we had some good opportunities there both in the run and the pass game. We had some missed opportunities unfortunately.”
Running back Jerome Ford rushed nine times for 65 yards, a 7.2 average. He insisted he wasn’t bothered by the pass-run ratio.
“Not really paying attention to carries or who gets the ball or how the ball’s distributed or what plays we run,” he said. “It’s more so of when a play is called doing my job. I feel like we’re in good hands when Coach Stefanski and those guys are upstairs calling the plays and we just follow their lead and trusting them and that’s what’s been helping us so far.”
Ford’s best game is 107 rushing yards and he was asked if he thought about being on the way to a career day if he’d gotten more attempts.
“At no time in the game am I worried about personal stats or what the day could be, and the most important stat I think in all of our opinion is a W,” he said.
NICE TO SEE YOU
The Browns will practice in Los Angeles this week, which allows them to meet up with Watson, who had surgery there last Tuesday to repair a broken bone in his throwing shoulder.
“It works out well that we’ll be able to see him and he’ll be able to be around the team and that’s always important,” Stefanski said. “A guy like Deshaun, I think it’s always important for him to be around his teammates.”
Running back Nick Chubb, who’s also out for the season, had a second knee surgery recently but traveled with the team to Denver and then Los Angeles. He was in the locker room after the game on crutches.
“He gets to rehab with us and that’s part of his rehab process,” Stefanski said. “Nice to have Nick around.”
The Browns have been hit with a case of the drops the last two games.
“It always comes back to technique,” Stefanski said. “I don’t think you can simply say to somebody, ‘Hey, catch the ball.’ I think you have to talk about the things that go into catching the ball, the act of catching, and there’s all those coaching points, there’s all those things that you’ve been taught your whole life. And then we’ll continue to coach ’em up because those are certainly correctable.”
That was the first 29-12 score in NFL history, according to the Fox broadcast.
** With Anthony Walker Jr. inactive with a hamstring injury, Tony Fields II played 30 defensive snaps as the third linebacker behind Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Sione Takitaki. Jordan Kunaszyk played 13 and Matthew Adams 10 off the bench.
** The Broncos had “The Drive” playing in the press box before the game.