More QBs injured as Browns lose to Pats

Published 2:27 am Monday, October 10, 2016

CLEVELAND (AP) — Charlie Whitehurst grimaced in pain and was nearly doubled over as he leaned on a stanchion outside Cleveland’s locker room while waiting to undergo X-rays.
There was a line of patients.
The Browns are losing quarterbacks as quickly as games.
Whitehurst and rookie starter Cody Kessler were both injured on Sunday during a 33-13 loss to the New England Patriots, further damaging Cleveland’s already ravaged quarterback situation.
Kessler, making his third start after Robert Griffin III (broken bone in his shoulder) and Josh McCown (broken collarbone) got hurt in the season’s first two weeks, injured his ribs and chest when he was hit hard in the first quarter on a backward pass that skipped out of the end zone and turned into a safety for New England.
Whitehurst took over in the second half, but hyperextended his right knee in the final minutes and hobbled to the sideline.
The veteran returned to the field to run out the final seconds, but his status for next week’s game at Tennessee remains unclear.
“I think I’ll be fine,” he said. “I don’t know. We’ll see. I guess there will be some tests, but I think I’ll be fine. I’ll be ready.”
The injuries to Kessler and Whitehurst have only magnified problems for first-year Browns coach Hue Jackson, who continues to put on a brave front in the face of the mounting injuries.
Jackson’s job in rebuilding the Browns was going to be difficult enough. Now he’s dealing with a revolving door at the game’s most important position. Griffin remains sidelined indefinitely, while McCown is holding out hope he could be back soon.
Jackson did not provide any specifics on Kessler’s injury other than to say nothing was broken.
Kessler was drilled by linebacker Dont’a Hightower as he tried to throw a swing pass to running back Duke Johnson.
The third-round draft pick struggled to get up, and when he finally did he walked slowly to the sideline before he was taken to the locker room for tests. Kessler returned to the bench area, but did not go back in the game.
“I wanted to (play),” he said. “I tried, but there is a point where you have to be smart. It hurt. I hate leaving guys like that. I hate coming out. It hurt me as a person. It is unfortunate, but that is just the game.”
For the Browns, it’s been an epidemic.
They’ve had three different starters and have already played five quarterbacks — wide receiver Terrelle Pryor played 14 snaps at Miami and a few after Kessler and Whitehurst went out — and only have rookie Kevin Hogan on the practice squad.
“It’s unfortunate,” wide receiver Andrew Hawkins said. “I really don’t have any words for it. It’s nothing like I’ve been a part of, but it’s football.”
Whitehurst dismissed the notion the Browns are snake-bitten.
“It’s the NFL,” he said. “Guys get hurt. It’s the way it goes.”

BRADY RETURNS: There’s nothing to hold Tom Brady and the Patriots back now.
The air has cleared around him. He’s freed. Even inflated by the past.
His fight with the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell ended long ago and his four-game suspension has elapsed as well. He’s healthy, showing no signs of any rust — or slippage at 39 — and New England’s offensive arsenal has been replenished with more targets.
Brady’s back. Beware.
“It’s super great,” Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said of the team’s reunion with Brady. “He’s our leader. He’s our guy.”
Returning from a ban for his part in the “Deflategate” scandal, Brady passed for 406 yards and threw three touchdown passes to Martellus Bennett while leading the New England Patriots to a 33-13 win on Sunday over the Cleveland Browns, who had two more quarterbacks sustain injuries.
Brady stood tall in the pocket and fired passes over the middle in traffic. The two-time MVP bought time by checking his other options and floated long passes with perfect touch to Bennett and Gronkowski, his new bookend tight ends who will give defensive coordinators even more to consider when scheming against him.
Brady even ran for 14 yards, punctuating his scramble by springing to his feet and signaling for a first down the way Usain Bolt points after winning a gold medal.
Simply put, Brady was Brady.
“It was fun to have him back out there,” Bennett said after playing his first game with Brady. “He was fired up. We were fired up and we were just trying to make plays for him.”
Brady finished 28 of 40 while recording his eighth career 400-yard game.

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