BEREA, Ohio—The Browns entered the 2010 season with the linebacker corps as deep as it has been in many years. That depth will now be tested as it appears that D’Qwell Jackson will be out for some time after suffering an injury to his right pectoral muscle in practice Tuesday night.
“There’s really no update from what we talked about it the other day,” coach Eric Mangini said. “We’ll let him rehab for a couple of weeks and then evaluate.”
Mangini said there were no immediate plans for surgery. Jackson was still seeking medical opinions on the extent of the injury.
“Right now, the plan is to let it quiet down for a couple of weeks and see where we’re at,” Mangini said.
With the Browns setting to start the preseason Saturday, two weeks would take them to the third preseason game, with the final preseason game on Sept. 2.
An estimation was Jackson would be out four to eight weeks. That timetable would keep Jackson out of the season opener a month from today on Sept. 12 and as much as the first five games.
Jackson missed the final 10 games of the 2009 season with a torn pectoral muscle that had to be surgically repaired. This injury was to the other pectoral, but has not been disclosed if it was torn or not. If it is, he will most likely need surgery, which will probably sideline him for the season.
“(Defensive coordinator) Rob (Ryan) said the guy is a warrior and he can play football, “ Chris Gocong said. “It’s just bad luck and my heart goes out to him.”
Jackson was listed as the starter along with Gocong on the depth chart with Eric Barton behind him.
“I don’t look at it as Eric replacing D’Qwell,” Mangini said. “The depth chart was just a work sheet. I see Eric and Chris interchangeable.”
Gocong came over in the trade with Sheldon Brown from the Eagles. Scott Fujita was signed as an unrestricted free agent from the Saints, while Matt Roth is on the outside opposite Fujita.
David Bowens and Jason Trusnik played well and were the starters on the inside the last half of the 2009 season.
“The whole thing with linebackers is that Rob (Ryan) has always preached that everyone needs to know and play everyone’s position,” Gocong said. “This is definitely going to be a test and find some guys to move around.”
Mangini is glad for the depth, but also for the NFL experience.
“Eric has started over 100 games and Chris, with his experience, and David Bowens with his,” Mangini said. “To be able to plug someone that can play is valuable.”
David Veikune, a second-round draft choice last year, also has been playing well inside, according to Mangini.
“He has made some significant jumps, similarly to (Brian) Robiskie,” Mangini said. “This year, he has made some good strides.”
Veikune has missed the last couple of practices with a minor injury, but Mangini was hoping he would be back at practice soon. Other candidates are second-year linebacker Kaluka Maiava, Marcus Benard and Titus Brown.
Delhomme Bats First: Mangini said the plan is to play QB Jake Delhomme and QB Seneca Wallace each a quarter in the preseason opener Saturday against the Packers.
“I don’t know if the number of plays will be similar,” Mangini said. “It depends on the length of the drives. Sometimes, it’s based upon your opponent. You also have to make sure you get enough work in the game for them.”
He said the plan is to play QB Colt McCoy and QB Brett Ratliff in the second half. On the first depth chart, McCoy was listed third and Ratliff fourth. Delhomme was listed as the starter with Wallace behind him.
In practice Thursday morning, McCoy directed the offense to a touchdown in the two-minute behind the starting offensive line. He was 4-of-4 and he hit TE Alex Smith for an 18-yard touchdown threading the ball between T.J. Ward and Brandon McDonald on a post route. McCoy completed passes to Carlton Mitchell, Syndric Steptoe and James Davis on the drive.
Meanwhile, when Ratliff took his turn, his first pass was batted up in the air at the line of scrimmage and LB Jason Trusnik intercepted it and returned it for a touchdown.
In practices, the quarterbacks appear to be throwing a lot to the tight ends and backs and Mangini was asked if he was concerned about not getting the ball to the wide receivers.
“They’ve been hitting the wide receivers,” he said. “I’m never going to be upset if they throw it to the open guy. I don’t want them to press and throw it in somewhere they shouldn’t.”
Hardesty Back: Mangini is cautiously optimistic that rookie RB Montario Hardesty will return to practice next week. The original timetable of two weeks would put him returning to practice after the Packers preseason game.
Mangini is hoping to get him back to see in the preseason. After Saturday’s game with the Packers, the next is one is 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 21 at Cleveland Browns Stadium against the St. Louis Rams.
“I want to see (Hardesty) play against other colors,” Mangini said. “He’s a guy that looks better in games than in practice, because he’s such a physical back.”
Injury Update: Besides Jackson missing practice, OL Tony Pashos (shoulder), DB Eric Wright (leg), LB David Bowens (leg) and LB David Veikune (undisclosed) sat out Thursday morning practice, besides the PUP players (DL Shaun Rogers, DL C.J. Mosley, DB Coye Francies). Back at practice was LB Titus Brown (leg), LB Marcus Benard (undisclosed) and DB Brandon McDonald (ankle). OL John St. Clair was carted off at the end of practice, but Mangini said that it was just cramping.
Mangini didn’t rule Wright out of Saturday’s game, but all but ruled Pashos out.
“Eric might be out there tonight and might play Saturday,” he said. “That’s what I’m hoping for. (With Pashos) I’m optimistic, but not that optimistic.”
Zastudil Update: Mangini said that P Dave Zastudil is back in town after conferring with his doctor in Colorado. He said nothing has been determined regarding his status.
“With Dave it’s similar to D’Qwell,” he said. “We’re going to give it some time.”