CLEVELAND -- It was a bad news, good news type of day for the Cleveland Browns when it came to the injury front Wednesday.
While fellow defensive back Denzel Ward remained in the NFL Concussion Protocol and may not be cleared in time for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, cornerback Terrance Mitchell returned from the broken arm he suffered in a Week 4 loss at the Oakland Raiders.
“It feels cool,” Mitchell said. “I am just trying to do my best.
“I will just go out there and just do my best. Let the chips fall where they may.”
In the first four games of the season with the Browns, Mitchell registered 19 total tackles, including 18 solo stops and one assist and defended three passes. Mitchell seemed especially adept at forcing turnovers, as he intercepted one pass and was among the league leaders with two forced fumbles and one recovery.
“He is taking the next step,” interim coach Gregg Williams said of Mitchell. “We will see how it goes day by day by day. It is one of those things where it is hard for people to understand this, but you just do not want people to be out that long, and then, just all of a sudden, think you can step back in.
“We try to do everything that we can in rehab to make it realistic, but until you get back out there competing, there is nothing realistic until change in directions and stuff. He has done very well. He had a good day. Just knock on wood, let him go day by day by day and see how he gets to the weekend.”
Mitchell’s return comes at a time when the secondary is ailing.
Along with Ward’s concussion concerns, Damarious Randall has been playing through a groin issue that forced him out of an early-November loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Denzel’s done a great job this year of being kind of a lockdown corner on the edge,” linebacker Joe Schobert said. “When the other team’s No. 1 receiver has lined up across from him, he’s done a good job of neutralizing, or at least containing, that threat.
“For a rookie coming into the NFL at corner, it’s one of the hardest positions to play just because of the level increase you play week in and week out. You’ve always got to play Antonio Brown, a Julio Jones, those kinds of guys, and every team has at least one. Losing him, obviously, will hurt, but getting Terrance Mitchell back will be huge for us.”
According to fellow defensive back T.J. Carrie, Mitchell’s return “is really important” not only to the secondary, but the entire defense.
“T-Mitch has been very productive in the games that he has been here and the games he has played in,” Carrie said. “A very highly talented guy. He knows the game. He has played for a while. It is always good to get another dominant cornerback out there.
“Every cornerback that is coming in -- me, myself -- we have all been able to hold ourselves to a higher standard and have been playing some very great football. If we do lose Denzel, then we have a bunch of guys that are going to be able to come in and step up.”
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