BEREA — Grant Delpit’s 2020 season ended with the Browns before it began.
And Cleveland’s first training camp under new coach Kevin Stefanski is turning more black and blue by the day.
Delpit, a rookie safety from LSU, ruptured his right Achilles tendon while going through individual drills on Monday, another dose of bad luck for Cleveland and Stefanski, who has lost three likely defensive starters in a week to injuries.
The team said Tuesday that Delpit, a second-round pick from the national champion Tigers, will undergo surgery.
“Very disappointed for Grant,” Stefanski said. “He is disappointed, but I think he has the right mindset to bounce back. Unfortunate to see that, but we are fully supporting him, and then we will make sure that he attacks his rehab.”
His loss is yet another blow to Cleveland’s defense, and especially its secondary, which was overhauled during the offseason.
Delpit’s injury is the third significant one to strike Cleveland’s defense early in Stefanski’s camp.
Linebacker Mack Wilson hyperextended his left knee while breaking up a pass last week, and nickel back Kevin Johnson lacerated his liver when rookie tight end Harrison Bryant landed on him. It’s not known when Wilson or Johnson will be back on the field.
Defensive tackle Chad Thomas left Wednesday’s practice with a neck injury.
The rash of injuries would be tough on any team, but particularly for Stefanski and his staff since they had no on-field work during the pandemic-altered offseason and are trying to install new schemes.
Stefanski said it’s vital for players not to be demoralized by seeing teammates go down.
“We care about these guys,” he said. “We do not like to see that. Injuries are part of this game. They have happened for a very long time. They will continue to be part of this game. As much as you hate to hear it: it is next man up. They have heard it from me.
“They have heard it from every coach going back to Pee Wee. I think they know the message that we have a lot of work to, do and we have work to be done. We hate to lose those guys, but we have to get back to that work.”
Delpit got hurt while backpedaling during the early portion of practice. He dropped to the turf and grabbed his lower leg while waiting for assistance. He was helped onto a cart and driven to the team’s facility. An MRI test revealed the tear.
The No. 44 overall pick in this year’s draft, Delpit had played well in camp, and the Browns were excited about his progress and potential.
The team signed free agents Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo to one-year contracts during the offseason to give them depth and experience in the secondary. Cleveland chose not to sign last year’s primary starters, Damarious Randall and Morgan Burnett, before drafting Delpit, who won the 2019 Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.
Delpit’s loss will force first-year general manager Andrew Berry to search the waiver wire or potentially make a trade.
Veteran Earl Thomas was recently released by the Ravens, but given his problems in Seattle and Baltimore, it might be too risky to consider bringing him to a fairly young team that’s a long way from Super Bowl contention.
Stefanski would not specifically comment on the team’s potential interest in Thomas.
“It is a case-by-case basis on every position player that we discuss,” he said.
The Browns are banged-up throughout their defensive backfield. Starting cornerback Greedy Williams injured his shoulder in Monday’s practice and M.J. Stewart, who was filling in for Johnson, has been slowed by a hamstring issue. Also, cornerback Terrance Mitchell has missed practices with a knee injury.
Stefanski said Williams’ injury was still being evaluated.
Notes: WR Jarvis Landry left the field during practice, but Stefanski said it was to continue rehab from offseason hip surgery. … WR Odell Beckham Jr. spoke to the media for the first time since last season ended. He feels more settled in his second season with Cleveland and said he’s feeling better following core muscle surgery in January. … Beckham took a playful poke at quaterback Baker Mayfield, who came into camp looking trim. “He’s got a four-pack now,” OBJ said. … Others not practicing: C JC Tretter (knee surgery) LB Adrian Clayborn (groin), LB Tae Davis (illness), WR KhaDarel Hodge (personal), TE David Njoku (wrist), WR Damion Ratley (groin).