Now they're facing the extended absence of Baker Mayfield's top target. The Browns placed wide receiver Jarvis Landry on injured reserve Tuesday with an MCL sprain in his left knee. Landry sustained the injury early in Sunday's win over the Houston Texans and didn't return to the game.
His placement on injured reserve means that he'll miss at least three games. The Browns face the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Chargers in the next three weeks. They didn't put a timeline on Landry's absence.
Tuesday's news arrives as a bit of a surprise after the Browns designated Landry as week-to-week on Monday and didn't rule out his return on Sunday against Chicago.
Will Beckham play on Sunday?
The good news for Cleveland is that Beckham is reportedly close to a return to the field. He missed the first two weeks still recovering from season-ending surgery to repair a torn ACL last November. He was a surprise late scratch for Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs and remained sidelined on Sunday.
Beckham sounded confident in his return on Monday, writing "we gon hold it down" in response to Landry tweeting about his injured knee.
We waitin slimeballl! Keep that pain on ya… we gon hold it down 😈
— Odell Beckham Jr (@obj) September 20, 2021
Who will pick up Landry's slack?
Beckham or not, Landry's absence means that Mayfield will continue to look more to tight end targets Austin Hooper and David Njoku in the passing game. Meanwhile receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins will be expected to step up. And expect plenty of reps for running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Landry has been Mayfield's top target since joining the Browns in 2018, leading the team in receiving yards in each season. Somebody's going to have to pick up that slack.