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David Njoku injury: high ankle sprain could affect Browns-Bills availability

The Browns are almost out of tight ends

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It looks like the Cleveland Browns could be playing without tight end David Njoku for an undetermined amount of time. The sixth-year player out of Miami left Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens with what is now being classified as a high ankle sprain.

While Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said that the tight end will be week-to-week, Tom Pelissero, NFL Network insider, said that Njoku will miss at least the Browns’ Week 8 game against division rival Cincinnati Bengals.

Njoku has averaged 12.3 yards per catch for the Browns this season while compiling 418 yards and one touchdown on 34 receptions, including 71 yards on Sunday before he had to exit the Browns’ loss to the Ravens.

Cleveland already has two wide receivers (Jakeem Grant Sr. and Isaiah Weston), a running back (Jerome Ford), and another tight end (Jesse James) on their Injured Reserved list.

With Njoku down—and for no idea how long at this point—Cleveland has only Harrison Bryant healthy and active in their tight end group. Bryant has just 14 catches for 155 yards this season, his third in the NFL.

While Pelissero reported that surgery won’t be needed to repair Njoku’s ankle, if you were to look at the timetable for several key players on the Buffalo Bills’ 2022 roster who have dealt with non-surgical ankle injuries this season, there remains a chance that the tight end may potentially be unavailable as far out as Week 11—when the Bills host the Browns.

Wide receiver Gabe Davis missed just one game, Week 2, with an ankle injury that he suffered in practice. However, Davis was noticeably not at full speed until Week 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On the flip side, defensive tackle Ed Oliver left Buffalo’s Week 1 game against the Los Angeles Rams with an ankle injury and wasn’t able to work back into the lineup at all until Week 5—and then was limited in action. It wasn’t until the following week when the Bills faced the Kansas City Chiefs that Oliver’s presence was felt, as he recorded both a solo tackle and a tipped pass.

And then there’s the case of wide receiver and special teams ace Jake Kumerow, who injured his ankle midway through Buffalo’s Week 3 loss in Miami. Kumerow has yet to make a return to play.

So, while Njoku is out for this week, he could be back when the Browns travel to Buffalo in a month. Or he could also miss the game. Or he could be back, but not at full strength. It will be worth keeping an eye on Clevaland’s injury report over the next couple of weeks and watching how aggressive they are with getting their top tight end back on the field.