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Around the AFC North: Browns Left Tackle Headed to Injured Reserve

Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. (71) rides off of the field after getting injured during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Cleveland.
Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. (71) rides off of the field after getting injured during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Cleveland.

Cleveland Browns: Left Tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. Suffers Significant Injury

The Browns (5-3) blanked the Cardinals, 27-0, in Week 9, but the victory came with a price.

Cleveland starting left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. was carted off the field after suffering a knee injury. 

According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Wills suffered a high-grade MCL sprain, low-grade PCL sprain, and bone bruises. The injury is expected to knock him out of action for about six weeks.

In Week 1, the Browns lost two-time All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin (knee) for the season. In Week 2, Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury. Losing Wills will be another serious blow for Cleveland's offense.

"Yeah, it's tough," All-Pro guard Joel Bitonio said via Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal. "I mean, we've had him and Jack and Nick – we've had some serious ones this year – and hopefully he can bounce back, but it's hard."

It's a particularly bad time for the Browns to lose another starting offensive tackle as they prepare to face the Ravens (7-2) in Week 10. Baltimore leads the NFL in sacks (35.0) coming off its four-sack performance in Sunday's 37-3 victory over the Seahawks.

Third year backup James Hudson III is expected to replace Wills at left tackle and will have the difficult assignment of protecting quarterback Deshaun Watson's blindside from Baltimore's pass rush.

Watson had an injured throwing shoulder and didn't play Week 4 when the Ravens beat the Browns, 28-3, in Cleveland. But against the Cardinals, Watson completed 19 of 30 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions and said he felt fine after the game.

"I came out healthy, I feel good," Watson said via the Browns’ website. "I'm not 100%. I missed a couple of throws I know I can make. I'm striving to get better.

Cincinnati Bengals: Four Straight Wins and Joe Burrow's Sparkling Play Lift Confidence

Joe Burrow turned in another stellar performance on Sunday Night Football, leading the Bengals (5-3) to a 24-18 win over the Bills. After an 0-2 start, the Bengals have won four straight and are tied with Cleveland and Pittsburgh, all chasing the Ravens in the AFC North.

Burrow threw for a season-high 348 yards against Buffalo and became just the second quarterback in league history to complete 75% of his passes over a four-game span while throwing at least 150 passes.

"We went out and proved to the world we're back and we're here," said wide receiver Tee Higgins via ESPN and the Associated Press, after catching eight catches for a season-high 110 yards.

The Bengals are trying to follow the same script as last season when they started 0-2, then stormed back to win the AFC North for the second straight year. Cincinnati hosts the Texans (4-4) in Week 10, followed by a short week and a Thursday Night Football showdown against the Ravens (Nov. 16) at M&T Bank Stadium.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Season-Ending Injury to Cole Holcomb Presents Another Challenge

The Steelers have been outgained in every game this season and are ranked No. 29 in total offense, yet they're in the thick of the division race. Losing inside linebacker Cole Holcomb for the season after a knee injury in Week 9 will put even more pressure on Pittsburgh's defense to carry the load.

Holcomb was tied with Pro Bowl safety Minkah Fitzpatrick for the team lead in tackles with (54). Kwon Alexander (41 tackles) and Elandon Roberts (48) will be expected to play even more snaps at inside linebacker without Holcomb as part of the rotation.

"They're all alphas in the middle," Pro Bowl edge rusher T.J. Watt said via TribLive. "They all want to be out there as much as possible. Obviously, we feel for Cole. But when those guys stepped in, we didn't miss a beat."

Coming off their 20-16 victory over Tennessee on Thursday Night Football, the Steelers (5-3) will host the Packers (3-5) in Week 10.

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