It was a scary day at Browns training on Tuesday when Brown’s wide receiver Jakeem Grant got hurt at the start of practice. This was the last official practice before the Browns headed to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars in their first preseason game on Friday night.
Grant’s injury did not look good when he went down and ended up getting carted off the field. News broke at the end of practice that Grant tore his Achilles and will be out the entire 2022 season.
The Browns signed Grant this off-season as their primary kick and punt returner. He was also brought in to play some snaps as a slot wide receiver.
Grant spent his first five seasons in Miami and last year spent his only season in Chicago and ended up making his first pro bowl as a returner.
The Browns were counting on Grant this season to have some production in the return game, and it’s now time for others to step up.
The Browns have had severe issues the last few seasons with returning kicks and changing field positions, and this year might be no different.
Sometimes it is just a win that Brown’s returner fair catches the ball and doesn’t fumble it. That’s why the Browns brought in Grant, and now they need to figure out who they want returning kicks in week one in Carolina.
Demetric Felton looks to be the next man up to be the punt returner. Felton is a running back/wide receiver and had 32 punt returns in his rookie year. Felton’s roster spot was on the bubble due to being the odd man out in a crowded running back room and unable to establish himself as a wide receiver. Felton’s roster spot looks perfect now if he doesn’t have any vast mistakes through the preseason.
Donovan Peoples-Jones could also be a name to watch in the return room. Peoples-Jones is trying to establish himself as the number two wide receiver in a very thin receiver room, so I’m not sure about him returning the ball, and possibly getting injured is something the team will not want.
Peoples-Jones was an outstanding punt returner in his college days at Michigan, but I only see him returning any kick if it’s in an emergency-type role.
Anthony Schwartz, the second-year wide receiver from Auburn, could be a name to watch out for in the return game.
Schwartz’s rookie year got off to an excellent start in week one in Kansas City, but in week two vs. Houston, he was the wide receiver that cut off his route, and the ball was intercepted, and Baker Mayfield went and tried to make the tackle, and his shoulder went.
Schwartz also battled through a concussion his rookie year, and he’s looking for a fresh start in year two.
Schwartz has blazing speed, and when he can get into the open field, it’s pretty much over for the defenders.
Like Donovan Peoples-Jones, Schwartz is supposed to have a massive role in the receiver room, so the Browns might want him to focus on that and not worry about returning kicks.
D’Ernest Johnson is another name to watch out for in the return game. Johnson will likely be the third running back on the team and maybe the primary kick returner.
Johnson has shown that he can be a good running back in the league, but he is behind two of the best running backs in the NFL in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The Browns could use Johnson’s skill in the kick return game, and when he has a chance to return one, he can give the Browns some excellent field position.
Grant’s injury also is going to hurt big time in the receiver room.
Many people probably weren’t counting on Grant to have a significant impact as a receiver, but in a room with very little veteran presence, Grant would be someone the team could trust.
It is time for young guys like David Bell, Anthony Schwartz, and Michael Woods to step up and help whoever will be playing quarterback.
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