Browns' Jedrick Wills Jr. stops practicing; Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt among those sidelined
BEREA — The Browns welcomed starting left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. back to practice Wednesday, but an asterisk should be placed next to his name.
Wills began participating in individual drills during the portion of practice open to reporters, but he stopped and had a lengthy discussion with Joe Sheehan, the team's senior vice president of player health and development.
As Wills talked, he gestured toward his left ankle, which was injured Sept. 12 in a 33-29 season-opening loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The injury has been aggravated a few times since then as Wills played through it.
Wills missed his first game of the season this past weekend in a 47-42 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, and it's unclear whether he'll be able to play Sunday when the Browns (3-2) host the Arizona Cardinals (5-0).
"With any injury, you've got to make sure you're doing your work in the training room, and some of it is lucky, quite honestly, with him," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said of Wills, the 10th overall pick in last year's draft. "He's gotten rolled up there a couple times, so hopefully he's feeling strong and feeling good, and we'll be excited if we can get him back out there."
Cornerbacks Greg Newsome II, Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams return to Cleveland Browns practice
The returns of cornerbacks Greg Newsome II (calf), Denzel Ward (neck) and Greedy Williams (shoulder) to practice were not as eventful, at least when media members were allowed to watch.
The 26th overall pick in this year's draft, Newsome missed the past two games. Ward and Williams left Sunday's loss to the Chargers early.
The Browns listed Wills, Newsome, Ward and Williams as limited practice participants on the injury report.
Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt among Cleveland Browns players who sat out practice in prep for Arizona Cardinals
There is a long list of Browns players who didn't practice Wednesday.
Running backs Nick Chubb (calf) and Kareem Hunt (wrist, knee), right tackle Jack Conklin (knee), defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney (elbow, knee), Myles Garrett (knee, ankle) and Takk McKinley (ankle, knee), tight end David Njoku (knee), linebacker Malcolm Smith (abdomen) and center JC Tretter (knee) did not practice.
Conklin and Tretter were the only ones who didn't work out beside the field during the open period.
Prior to Wednesday's practice, Stefanski said he was not ready to rule out any of the aforementioned players for Sunday's game.
Asked about Chubb and Hunt's statuses, Stefanski said, "I don't think we're being cautious with any of our guys. I just think we're just trying to be smart about it."
Clowney missed his first game as a Browns player after he experienced soreness in a knee during pregame warm-ups Sunday. Stefanski said he hopes the team won't need to worry about Clowney's status each week. Injuries have prevented Clowney from playing a full NFL season since 2017.
"Obviously, he has an injury history there, but just with any of our guys, when they work out pregame and they are feeling something, you've got to go with what they're feeling, and he didn't feel like he could go," Stefanski said. "I think he's feeling better, but certainly with everybody, that's why every player goes out there on the field pregame to make sure they're feeling OK."
As for Garrett, the All Pro said after Sunday's game he would continue to push through his health issues to play. He thought Clowney would do the same.
“I'm going to keep on grinding, keep on pushing,” said Garrett, who leads the NFL this season with seven sacks. “It was tough to be without JD because that helps [the opposing offense] key a little bit more on me and the rest of us. I know he'll be back soon, and he's a force when he's out there. I know I just have to step my game up a little bit higher when he's not out there.”
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The Cardinals are in jeopardy of facing the Browns without one of their best players. They placed edge rusher Chandler Jones on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday. He has five sacks this season, all in the season opener.
Jones usually lines up across from the opposing left tackle. With Wills inactive, Blake Hance started at left tackle. Rookie fourth-round pick James Hudson III filled in at right tackle Sunday for Conklin. Three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt plays on that side of the line for the Cardinals.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.