BEREA – Browns linebacker Chris Gocong will miss the season after injuring his right Achilles tendon this morning at practice. Gocong will have surgery, possibly as early as Monday, when the full extent of the tear will be discovered.
Coach Pat Shurmur confirmed this afternoon the team’s fears had been realized.
Gocong, who’s started all 32 games in his two years with the Browns, was covering tight end Jordan Cameron in the end zone and felt something in his lower right leg as he went to jump. Gocong immediately grabbed the leg and there was no contact on the play.
Veteran linebacker Scott Fujita immediately realized the severity of the injury. He embraced Gocong on the cart before he was driven into the fieldhouse, then told the young linebackers they needed to be ready for increased responsibility.
“Chris has come so far as a player,” Fujita said. “He came to training camp in great shape and was making so many plays in camp.”
Fujita has been suspended by the NFL for the first three games for his alleged role in the Saints’ bounty scandal, but is trying to get it overturned in court. His lawyers filed a brief Friday and there’s a hearing Aug. 10.
If the Browns are without Gocong and Fujita for three games, their linebacking depth would be severely tested. Fourth-year pro Kaluka Maiava and rookie fourth-round pick James-Michael Johnson would be the likely replacements in the starting lineup.
Sixth-rounder Emmanuel Acho, rookie free agent L.J. Fort and second-year pro Craig Robertson are also in the mix.
“Guys have to step up,” middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “Our draft picks have been doing well, not it’s time to step up and do more.”