BEREA, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns will be without their top tight end Sunday in Cincinnati.
Austin Hooper has appendicitis and underwent an appendectomy Friday at University Hospitals. The procedure was performed by Raymond Onders, MD Chief of General and Gastrointestinal surgery.
“He is in good spirits,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said.
Stefanski, who had his appendix removed when he was in the seventh grade, was unsure how long Hooper may need to be sidelined.
“With Hoop, I do not know,” Stefanski said. “He is out this week. We will update you as we get more information.”
Hooper has caught 22 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown in his first season with the Browns.
“I have said it before, any success we have had this year, he has been heavily involved,” Stefanski said. “It does not always show up in the stat sheets as catches, but he has been very involved in our successes this season. Obviously, we will miss him, but we will hold down the fort until he gets back.”
David Njoku and rookie Harrison Bryant will handle Hooper’s responsibilities against the Bengals.
2 Key Bengals Out – The Bengals ruled out running back Joe Mixon and cornerback William Jackson for Sunday.
Mixon has been sidelined by a foot injury suffered last week against the Colts while Jackson is in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Mixon ran for 46 yards on 16 carries in Week 2’s loss to the Browns and is averaging 4.1 yards per carry this season for Cincinnati. He has rushed 136 times for 654 yards and 4 touchdowns and added 24 catches for 240 yards in seven career games against the Browns.
Giovanni Bernard is expected to start for Mixon. In 13 career games against the Browns, Bernard has rushed 85 times for 395 yards and a score.
“I do not think it changes anything,” Stefanski said. “We knew he was on the injury report so that was a possibility. Just have to go to school on Giovani Bernard and the rest of the group there and just understand their strengths. That is part of preparing Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.”
Jackson had an interception in Week 2 against the Browns.
Safety Dance – The Browns secondary could get a major boost if safety Karl Joseph is able to return after being sidelined due to a hamstring injury.
“We are going to be cautious,” Stefanski said. It remains to be seen whether we have to work him out pregame. I will huddle up with the trainers on that decision. Just have to make sure that we are doing the right thing because those muscle injuries, you can’t just go right back to 100 miles per hour coming off of that so we have to be smart.”
Ronnie Harrison returned this week after exiting the NFL’s concussion protocol and is expected to play.
“I think we have been fortunate to be playing a lot of guys in that back end – sometimes due to injury, which is not ideal – but guys are getting a ton of reps,” Stefanski said. “We are comfortable having multiple guys out there that can do different jobs. I think versatility is such a big part of depth. I think those guys getting some reps early in the season has really paid off for us. Excited to get called Karl back out there. Another good player to add the mix.”
Injury Report – OUT: RG Wyatt Teller (calf), TE Austin hooper (appendicitis), LB Jordan Phillips (knee); QUESTIONABLE: S Karl Joseph (hamstring); EXPECTED TO PLAY: QB Baker Mayfield (chest), TE David Njoku (shoulder), LB Tae Davis (elbow), S Ronnie Harrison (concussion), DT Sheldon Richardson (Achilles), S Andrew Sendejo (shin), P Jamie Gillan (groin), RB Kareem Hunt (ribs), WR Jarvis Landry (hip/ribs), C JC Tretter (knee)