CLEVELAND (AP)For Cleveland’s linebackers, it’s been an especially painful season.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah became the fourth Browns starting linebacker to sustain a season-ending injury when he hurt his left foot late in Sunday’s 23-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Owusu-Koramoah was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, joining fellow linebackers Anthony Walker Jr. (quadriceps), Jacob Phillips (pectoral) and Sione Takitaki (knee), whose seasons also ended prematurely.
A second-round draft pick in 2021 out of Notre Dame, Owusu-Koramoah recorded 70 tackles and forced two fumbles in 11 games this season. He recently missed two games with a knee injury but had been playing well.
”Disappointed for him, but guys have to step up in his absence,” coach Kevin Stefanski said.
Owsusu-Koramoah made six tackles against the Bengals before getting hurt. He was carted to the locker room after the game and had an MRI on Monday.
Stefanski didn’t know specifically how Owusu-Koramoah was injured, only the play on which it happened. Asked if the 23-year-old needs surgery, Stefanski said the team and player were still ”working through all of that.”
Perhaps undersized for his position, Owusu-Koramoah nonetheless has been a solid contributor in two seasons.
”Still a young player,” Stefanski said when asked to assess his season. ”Played at a high level for us. Very productive making plays sideline to sideline and those type of things. Always has room to grow. He can continue to get better.
”I think there are areas that he can continue to improve. Disappointed in this case with this injury, but like a lot of guys, I know he will bounce back.”
As for the wave of injuries at one position, Stefanski chalked it up to a violent sport.
”It’s the NFL,” he said. ”Listen, I don’t feel good about any of those guys being injured. On a personal level, you hate to lose any players. It is unfortunate that it is at that one position, but that is the NFL.
”You have ways to get guys up to the roster, guys who have played and guys who have been here who have gotten a lot of reps and know what we were doing, so we are very confident with that group.”
Deion Jones, Jordan Kunaszyk and Tony Fields II figure to get the majority of playing time with Owusu-Koramoah out.
The Browns (5-8) certainly will miss Owusu-Koramoah on Saturday when they host the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens (9-4).
In the first meeting between the teams this season, Owusu-Koramoah had six tackles and forced a late fumble that gave Cleveland a chance in a 23-20 loss.
”Losing JOK is tough,” Browns cornerback Greg Newsome II said before his teammate went on IR. ”He’s one of the best players on the defense. He brings a bunch of energy, tackling machine out there, so there’s no replacing a guy like that either.”
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