Browns Mailbag: How can the secondary adjust without Denzel Ward?

A strategic move for the Browns game in Jacksonville would be to get Tavierre Thomas, and Javonte Moffatt more involved. Did you see the play of Jamal Adams and how he plays like a linebacker? We need to find someone to fill that void in the secondary? — Rob M., Charleston, West Virginia

First off, the kind of player you’re describing sounds a lot like Grant Delpit, who was lost for the season with an Achilles injury. The Browns had big plans for him in 2020 but had to call an audible when he went down with his injury. Ronnie Harrison Jr. has filled in nicely and continues to make his presence felt as Cleveland’s starting strong safety. It’ll be exciting to see him back in action against his old team this weekend.

As for how the Browns adjust in the wake of Ward’s calf injury, that remains to be seen. Earlier this year when Ward dealt with an injury during the team’s win over Washington, Cleveland moved Kevin Johnson into his spot while Thomas continued playing in the slot — a spot he occupied for the first two games while Johnson recovered from an injury. A lot of football has been played since then, though, and the Browns could go with some different lineups as they look to fill the massive void left by Ward. Robert Jackson, for example, is a full-fledged member of the active roster now but wasn’t earlier in the season.

“Disappointed for Denzel, but really no different than we have talked about with all the guys. They are out, and the next man has to step up,” Stefanski said. “I think you have seen our guys do that throughout this year. Excited for the guys that we will have available to us.”

I’m not sure if the Eagles offensive line is that bad or does the rest of our defense let up when Garrett is playing and relying on him to make plays? — Brian R., Thompson

I definitely don’t think the Browns D-linemen “let up” when Garrett is on the field, so let’s eliminate that as a point of discussion. I simply think the unit had a phenomenal game against a vulnerable Eagles offense, which features a struggling line and a quarterback that holds on to the ball, that has allowed more sacks than anyone on the season. Olivier Vernon had his best game as a Browns player and more than earned his AFC Defensive Player of the Week award. Adrian Clayborn was also a beast off the edge while Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi were stout in the middle. It all added up to a much-needed performance from the group, and the Browns will be looking for more Sunday in Jacksonville.

“I am happy for OV,” Stefanski said. “We mentioned, people have to step up. He stepped up, and I am counting on him this week to do the same. I think he understands that it does not matter where he is rushing, how he is rushing and how he is playing the run, we need him out there, and we need him to make plays. That is what he did in this last ball game.”

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