Browns notes: If Jarvis Landry's time in Cleveland is ending, he'll have lasting impact
Jarvis Landry helped the Browns reverse their fortunes after former General Manager John Dorsey brought the five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver to Cleveland in a trade with the Miami Dolphins in 2018.
This is undisputed.
And as Landry approaches the end of his fourth and what could be final season with the Browns, teammates are acknowledging the impact he's had on them.
Landry's sub-par production in an injury-riddled 2021 season combined with his lucrative contract point to Browns GM Andrew Berry facing a decision about the future of a team leader whose football resume is stellar.
Although a restructured deal is possible, it should come as no surprise if Landry plays his last game for the Browns (7-9) in Sunday's season finale against the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“He's definitely a great,” receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones said Thursday on Zoom. “I can look at his game, I can talk to him and he's always giving pointers, not just even with football — life things. He has a lot of insight. He's been here for a long time. He has a lot of experience. He just does things the right way.
“Tough. Accountable. Definitely a leader for the team and for the receiver group. Just somebody you can rely on. For me, like a mentor, big brother figure.”
Landry is under contract through the 2022 season, when he's scheduled to make $15.05 million in salary and bonuses, with a salary cap hit of $16.55 million and a dead cap of just $1.5 million, if he's released, according to spotrac.com.
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Count Landry among the Browns players who didn't have the team or individual success they sought in 2021. In 11 games, he has a team-leading 46 catches on 79 targets for 495 yards and a touchdown to go along with six carries for 40 yards and two TDs.
Landry, 29, has dealt with multiple left knee injuries this season, beginning with a sprained medial collateral ligament he suffered in Week 2. He's among more than 20 Browns players who were sidelined Dec. 20 with COVID-19 for a 16-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
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Of course, Landry has been hit with adversity beyond his health. His close friend, former Louisiana State University teammate and fellow receiver Odell Beckham Jr. forced his way out of Cleveland in early November.
Landry used to speak to beat writers on a weekly basis throughout every season, but he has yet to address them since Nov. 16, when he hosted the second annual Jarvis Landry Thanksgiving food drive at Parma Senior High School.
At the time, Landry said Beckham's divorce from the Browns “hurt” him. He added, “It stung. It still does.”
Many interview requests for Landry have been denied since then.
On Wednesday, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Landry “doesn't have a morale problem” and “he's been great” in the aftermath of Beckham's departure.
Asked whether he has seen the OBJ's exit weigh on Landry, Peoples-Jones said, “Everybody kind of deals with things, and he has found ways to go out there and put his best self on the field for his teammates. I just have the most respect for him.”
Respect is a theme with Landry in the locker room and throughout the organization. He was named the Cleveland Browns 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
“He's a pro. He's one of the biggest competitors who I've been around,” rookie cornerback Greg Newsome II said. “I remember the first time I got to guard him — this was camp early in the season — I knocked the ball down, he fell and I tried to help him up, and he hit my hand down. I was like, ‘OK. This is the type of teammate and this is the type of guy that I want.’
“He's a competitor. He's going to push you to the limits. After practice, he's talking to me on how I can be better, how I can be a better leader and things that you should and things that shouldn't do. Jarvis Landry is the ultimate teammate and the ultimate competitor for sure.”
Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Malik Jackson lands on COVID-19 list
The Browns placed Malik Jackson on the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday, so the defensive tackle is in danger of missing Sunday's finale.
Jackson has started all 16 games this season and has 25 tackles, a half sack and four passes defensed.
The Browns also signed running back Benny LeMay and offensive tackle Alex Taylor to the practice squad and released tackle Elijah Nkansah from the practice squad. They put kicker Chris Blewitt on the practice squad/COVID-19 list.
Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter reflects on his snap streak ending
Center JC Tretter had his streak of 78 consecutive starts and 5,165 consecutive offensive snaps (100%) since he joined the Browns in 2017 snapped when he was forced to miss the 24-22 road loss to the Green Bay Packers on Christmas with COVID-19.
Signed as a free agent from Green Bay after being drafted by the Packers in the fourth round in 2013, Tretter had been looking forward to returning to Lambeau Field.
“It is a long snap streak. That game was probably the game I most did not want to miss, going back to Green Bay,” Tretter said. “I try to do the right thing, try to follow the rules and do what is right. I had some symptoms and did not want to be the guy who comes into the building and gets other people sick, and they miss games because of it.
“It is not always easy to do the right thing, but I think you always try to do the right thing. I think if you do that enough times, it works out for you in the end.”
Tretter said he woke up with a head cold on Dec. 23, the day he tested positive.
“My mom had actually gotten COVID two weeks earlier, and she had kind of a head cold. … That was really the only reason why I thought to get tested,” he said. “I had not seen my mom.
“It is tough missing time. I have not missed a game and not played in a week in a long, long time. It was a weird feeling being back on the couch and watching the game from home. It is not something I want to do again anytime moving forward. It was a tough thing not to be able to be out there and help the guys win.”
Tretter, who turns 31 on Feb. 12, said he plans to return next season. He’s battled a knee injury this season and gutted through a high ankle sprain for much of the 2018 season.
— Marla Ridenour
JC Tretter says injuries were mentally tough on Baker Mayfield
Tretter said he appreciated how quarterback Baker Mayfield fought through injuries, including a completely torn labrum in his left, non-throwing shoulder suffered in Week 2. Mayfield was placed on injured reserve Wednesday and will undergo surgery on Jan. 19.
“He was super banged up this year. I give him a ton of credit and appreciate how hard he fought to be out there with us each and every week,” Tretter said. “We knew he was going through a lot physically throughout the season. I am happy for him that he is going get fixed up, get feeling better and be able to come back ready to go next year ready to go and healthy again.”
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Tretter pointed out how mentally taxing the season was on Mayfield, who also fractured the humerus in the shoulder and suffered left heel, right knee and groin injuries.
“People think the pain is tough when you play through injuries; a lot of it is the mental aspect of playing through injuries is very difficult because there are things that you are used to being able to do that you can’t anymore,” Tretter said. “Waking up every morning, the first thing you think about is how much pain you are in. That wears on everybody when guys are going through that. That is not an easy thing to do. I give Baker a ton of credit for going to bat for us all season and fighting to be ready on Sundays to play with us.”
— Marla Ridenour
Browns rookie cornerback Greg Newsome II said he was ‘trending upwards’ before concussion
Newsome thought he was coming into his own when he suffered a concussion on the final play of a Friday practice ahead of a Dec. 12 home game against the Baltimore Ravens. As he was entering the final phase to clear concussion protocols, he tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 22, although he’s not sure he would have played at Green Bay because he’d missed over a week of practice.
“Before I had the concussion, I think I was trending upwards again with just confidence and being comfortable out there,” Newsome said.
“That was super tough. Do I regret trying to go make a play on the football? No because that is just how I play, whether it is practice or the game. I play like I practice, and I practice like I play. I just have to kind of sit back, watch my team play and kind of reflect on my game so when I am able to go again that I was not going to miss a beat. I feel like I did a pretty good job with staying in tune with the gameplan and staying ready.”
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The time the 26th overall pick from Northwestern University missed, along with the Dec. 5 bye, helped Newsome avoid the rookie wall.
“When I started feeling like, ‘Oh, man, we still have five or six more games,’ we had a bye Week 13 so we were able to get some time off, which was perfect,” Newsome said. “Honestly, mentally and physically, I was obviously like, ‘Dang, we have some games left,’ especially when my [college] guys were finishing up in school. I was still locked in and ready to go each and every week.”
Newsome was targeted by the Steelers on Monday night in the Browns’ 26-14 loss at Pittsburgh as he was assigned to cover 6-foot-4 receiver Chase Claypool. Newsome came through with eight tackles (seven solos) and two passes defensed.
“Do I like it? I could say yes because then I get to play the ball and get a few stats, but also it is a sign of disrespect that they come at you that much,” Newsome said of being targeted. “Going against a guy like that is fun, a bigger guy who I know they will throw a lot of jump balls to. He is not going to run too many comebacks or things like that. He is going to run a lot of fades and slants. That is a guy you just have to be physical right with him and just can’t back down from him.”
Newsome said he’s comfortable and confident, and next season hopes to contribute with takeaways.
“The turnovers and things like that, that will come from film study,” he said. “Just catching footballs all of the time is huge just because at practice, DBs and the defense do not catch the football enough. So you have to be able to do it on your own, catch it in positions you normally would not be in. That is something I am definitely looking to improve upon.”
On Sunday, Newsome will be looking for his first career interception.
“I have talked to Denzel about it, like ‘Man, I feel like it is just not coming,’” Newsome said of two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward. “He said, ‘It will come eventually.’ It would be amazing to end the year with an interception or maybe a few interceptions, if I can. That would definitely be a good time if I could get one the last game.”
— Marla Ridenour
Jadeveon Clowney headlines Cleveland Browns injury report
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (shoulder/knee) and defensive tackle Malik McDowell (neck) joined the list of Browns players who didn't practice Thursday. He was listed as limited Wednesday, when the team held a walk through and projected its injury report.
Tight end David Njoku (shoulder) and cornerback Denzel Ward (groin) sat out for the second consecutive day.
Browns players who were limited are running backs Nick Chubb (chest/ribs) and Kareem Hunt (ankle), safeties John Johnson III (hamstring) and Ronnie Harrision Jr. (ankle), nickelback Troy Hill (knee), linebacker Elijah Lee (shoulder), cornerback Greedy Williams (shoulder) and Tretter (knee).
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.