GREEN BAY, Wis. — As the Cleveland Browns prepare to face the league's reigning MVP, they'll be without one of their key defensive players. Just ahead of kickoff against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday, the Browns announced that safety John Johnson III is inactive and will miss the Week 16 matchup with a hamstring injury.
Johnson's absence is just the latest blow to a Cleveland secondary that has been decimated by injuries and illness. In addition to Johnson, safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. and cornerback Greg Newsome II will miss the game as they remain on the COVID-19 list, while cornerback Troy Hill remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Without Johnson in the lineup, Jovante Moffatt and Richard LeCounte III will likely receive increased playing time against a Packers offense headlined by quarterback Aaron Rodgers and All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams. With Newsome out, Greedy Williams will start at cornerback opposite Denzel Ward for the third straight week.
While Cleveland is healthier than it was during its Week 15 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, it will still be missing a number of key players who remain on the COVID-19 list, including:
- RB Kareem Hunt
- OT Jedrick Wills Jr.
- C JC Tretter
- DE Jadeveon Clowney
- DT Malik McDowell
- DT Jordan Elliott
- LB Mack Wilson Sr.
- LB Tony Fields II
- CB Greg Newsome II
- CB Troy Hill
- S Ronnie Harrison Jr.
- K Chase McLaughlin
One Browns player who will be suiting up on Saturday, however, will be All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett. After suffering a groin injury vs. the Raiders, Garrett had been limited in practice throughout the week, but indicated he would likely play against Green Bay. Starting quarterback Baker Mayfield will also return on Christmas Day, after missing last week's loss to Las Vegas on the COVID-19 list.
Laying claim to a 7-7 record, Cleveland needs a win against the 11-3 Packers to keep pace in the AFC playoff picture.