Cleveland Browns: Timetable for Deshaun Watson's Return Remains Uncertain
The Browns remain uncertain if starting quarterback Deshaun Watson (shoulder) will return Week 7 against the Colts after missing the last two games.
Without Watson for the second straight game, the Browns (3-2) knocked off the previously undefeated 49ers (5-1) in Week 6, 19-17, as Cleveland's hard-hitting defense knocked running back Christian McCaffrey (oblique) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (shoulder) out of the game. San Francisco kicker Jake Moody missed a 41-yard field goal at the end to give the Browns the win.
The Browns started P.J. Walker at quarterback in place of Watson and relied on their No. 1-ranked defense to keep them within striking distance.
"We know we can bang with anybody," Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett said via ESPN.com. "That's that swagger. That's that swagger (Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz) has brought and helped bring out of us."
The Browns hired Schwartz during the offseason to bring out the best in their defense and his presence has made an immediate impact. Peter King of NBC Sports named Schwartz as one of his "Coaches of the Week" and praised the Browns for their decision to hire him.
"I think Jim Schwartz was the best hire, head coach or coordinator, in the 2023 hiring cycle," King wrote via Pro Football Talk. "If the Browns can win enough games in the teens, they'll make the playoffs."
Meanwhile, the Browns are being patient with Watson's shoulder and Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said the quarterback's progress would be monitored during the week.
"We're taking that one day-to-day, being smart," Stefanski told reporters following the 49ers game. "He's fighting like crazy to get back out there, but we'll be smart about it."
Cincinnati Bengals: Hoping to Get Healthier During Bye and Hot Afterward
Cincinnati (3-3) climbed back to .500 with a 17-13 victory over the Seahawks in Week 6.
The Bengals won the AFC North last season after starting 0-2 and are trying to do it again. They have a bye in Week 7 that will allow them to get healthier and perhaps hotter once they return. Head Coach Zac Taylor senses the Bengals rounding into form.
"We kind of stubbed our toe starting this race off," Taylor said via the team’s website. "We're going to continue to pick up steam. I think good teams just find ways to do it. Right now, we're at that 3-3 mark going into a bye. We get a chance to get healthy and then hit the surge after the bye starting with San Francisco."
The Bengals were outgained by the Seahawks, 381-214. Cincinnati won behind two second half interceptions and stopped the Seahawks twice on fourth down inside the 10-yard line late in the fourth quarter.
The bye will give quarterback Joe Burrow time to rest and rehab the calf injury he has played with this season. The Bengals have belief in their recent track record of playing their best football in the second half of the season.
"The wins and losses, to be honest with you, we draw from all of them equally," Taylor said. "I think we've just got a lot of confidence as a team that we'll figure out a way at the end to close it out."
Pittsburgh Steelers: Starting Wide Receiver Diontae Johnson Returns to Practice
The Steelers (3-2) are coming off a bye week, which is reason to be optimistic about their chances when they visit the Rams in Week 7. Under Head Coach Mike Tomlin, the Steelers are 12-4 in games following their bye week and haven't lost following a bye since 2016.
Pittsburgh could be getting a couple key offensive weapons back for the Rams game. Starting wide receiver Diontae Johnson (hamstring), who has been out since Week 1, returned to practice Monday and may be activated off the Injured/Reserve by Sunday. Johnson said last week that he was close to returning.
"I've been working my behind off these last three, four weeks," Johnson said via the team’s website. "I feel completely great and healthy. I am ready for Monday when we come back and get back to work."
Starting tight end Pat Freiermuth (hamstring) also said he's going to play against the Rams after missing the Ravens last week.
Backup running back and former Maryland star Anthony McFarland, who has been out since Week 1 (knee), also returned to practice for Pittsburgh.