Injury Bug Hits the Cleveland Browns

The loss of Dion Lewis for the season is going to hurt Cleveland.

The loss of Dion Lewis for the season is going to hurt Cleveland.

In a cycle of bad news, the Cleveland Browns seem to be hurting at about the midway point of the 2013 NFL preseason. Running back Dion Lewis, who was slated to be Trent Richardson‘s primary backup this season, broke his leg in Cleveland’s 24-6 win over the Detroit Lions Thursday night.

Lewis was acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles in a offseason trade that sent linebacker Emmanuel Acho packing to the City of Brotherly Love. Lewis had put up 82 yards on 17 touches prior to the injury. From all accounts, the former Pittsburgh star was going to beat out Montario Hardesty as the Browns primary backup at running back.

At this point, Cleveland doesn’t have any plans to add a veteran running back to the mix. In addition to Hardesty, it currently has Brandon Jackson and Miguel Maysonet on the roster. Neither seems to possess the necessary ability to shoulder the load should Richardson go down to injury.

Running backs currently on the free-agent market include: Willis McGahee, Beanie Wells, Cedric Benson, Michael Turner and Brandon Jacobs. Each of these players would represent an upgrade over Hardesty, Jackson or Maysonet.

That’s a moot point, especially if reports that Cleveland isn’t interested in a veteran are true.

The Browns also dodged a pretty big bullet with rookie defender Barkevious Mingo, who appeared to suffer a bruised lung in the very same game that Lewis went down with injury. Early reports indicated that the first-round pick would miss just a week due to this injury.

Mary Kay-Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, indicated on Saturday that those early reports may have been too optimistic:

Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo’s bruised lung is “very, very unusual” and needs at least two to three weeks to heal, according to a noted thoracic surgeon.

That means Mingo, who remains hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic at least until Saturday, could miss the final two preseason games — and possibly even the opener Sept. 8 against Miami.

This has to be disconcerting, as Cleveland was relying on Mingo to be a primary backup pass rusher behind Jabaal Sheard and Paul Kruger. Considering that the Browns’ strength on defense sits in the front seven, they need to get Mingo back sooner rather than later.

With only one preseason game, in which starters will see action, remaining; the Browns have to be crossing their fingers and hoping for the best. They have had a solid summer with a revamped roster, front office and coaching staff. The last thing they need is for the injury bug to derail what has been a surprising performance thus far.

 

Vincent is the head sports editor at eDraft, co-host of eDraft Sports Radio (which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. ET) and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus. He’s also the news director here at PFC and co-host of Football Debate Central with Ryan Riddle every Wednesday. He’s also a former league-wide featured columnist at Bleacher Report.