Chiefs vs. Browns injuries: several key players are questionable

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Is Odell Beckham Jr injured?

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been limited in practices this week as he returns from a torn ACL. ... The Browns played the Chiefs well in the Divisional Round last season, but came up short. They'll be itching for this rematch, one that Beckham Jr. was injured for last season. DraftKings NationOdell Beckham Jr. injury news: Browns WR is questionable for Week 1 vs. Kansas City

The Ravens, Cleveland’s top AFC North rival, lose All-Pro CB Marcus Peters, RB Gus Edwards to ACL tears: Browns Takeaways

cleveland.com 09 September, 2021 - 06:04pm

BEREA, Ohio — The Ravens’ string of horrible luck continued Thursday, and the Browns’ bid to win the AFC North got stronger.

During back-to-back plays in a non-padded practice, running back Gus Edwards and All-Pro starting cornerback Marcus Peters both suffered what are believed to be season-ending torn ACLs.

It’s another blow to the Ravens, who have lost their top three running backs in the past 12 days, beginning with J.K. Dobbins tearing his ACL in the preseason finale, and then Justice Hill injuring his Achilles tendon Sept. 2.

The Ravens, who signed Le’Veon Bell to their practice squad on Wednesday, are in dire straits at running back, while also losing one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Peters, the two-time first-team All-Pro cornerback. Peters and fellow starting cornerback Marlon Humphrey, two tough, physical corners, have presented an enormous challenge for Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., and it’s a tremendous blow for the Ravens.

Cleveland and Baltimore are widely considered the top two AFC North contenders, and now it appears the Browns have a decided edge. They head into the opener in Kansas City as healthy as they’ve been since the start of training camp.

Clowney was absent from practice for the second straight day on Thursday with his illness, but defensive coordinator Joe Woods expects him back Friday or Saturday and is confident he’ll play Sunday. Clowney is testing negative for COVID-19.

“He’ll be fine,’’ Woods said. “Hopefully we get JD back here in a day or two.’’

Takk McKinley is the next man up, and has looked excellent in practice since returning from his three weeks off in camp while working through a personal issue. McKinley looks extremely fast off the ball. The Browns also have Joe Jackson at the ready.

But if all goes as hoped, Clowney will start opposite Myles Garrett.

“I feel comfortable,’’ Woods said. “We want to send waves of defensive linemen at people. That is the way we are built anyway. I feel comfortable where Takk is. Joe Jackson understands the system.’’

Rookie linebacker Tony Fields also missed practice with an illness on Thursday.

Delpit, who missed most of training camp slowed by a hamstring issue, is expected to play in Kansas City. The Browns would like to use him as much as possible in their three-safety packages and other sub-defenses.

“We’ll have to evaluate that really day by day,’’ Woods said. “He has been involved. He has been in all the walkthroughs. He takes reps out there so he definitely understands what he is doing, and we want to make sure that he is healthy enough to play.”

The Chiefs are still waiting for Mathieu, a three-time Pro Bowl safety, to be activated off the COVID reserve list. Coach Andy Reid said Wednesday that tests were improving, but defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo admitted Thursday that Mathieu’s status is in doubt.

“It’s up in the air and it’s a little bit challenging to game plan for,” Spagnuolo told Chiefs reporters. “We’ve got Plan A and Plan B. We’ll move guys around, do what we have to, try to do most of the things we do with Tyrann but certainly some of those things are going to change and some of the calls might alter because of that.”

Spagnuolo isn’t sure what Mathieu will be up for if he does play. Like all vaccinated players, he needs two negative COVID-19 tests 24 hours apart to be activated.

“We don’t know,’’ Spagnuolo said. “But this dude is a special guy, in my opinion. We’ll see. I think we’ve got to be fair to him. We always say that sometimes you’ve got to protect the players from themselves so we’ve got to be careful there.”

The Steelers paid the man. They made outside linebacker T.J. Watt the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL at $28 million a year, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. He signed a four-year extension worth $112 million, including $80 million fully guaranteed.

“He’s arguably the best football player in the game right now, not just on defense, just in general,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters Wednesday. “I’ve been through negotiations here with contracts. One of the reasons I took less money was for guys like him to get paid, and he needs to get paid.

“He deserves every penny that he wants and asks for. T.J. Watt is that guy that should get whatever he wants.”

Watt’s new-money average is $3 million more per year than Myles Garrett’s $25 million from his extension last July.

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