Browns place LB Christian Kirksey, CB E.J. Gaines on injured reserve

Joe Schobert calls Kirksey "heart and soul" of the defense

Daryl Ruiter
November 07, 2018 - 10:59 am
Cleveland Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey (58) at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns placed linebacker Christian Kirksey and cornerback E.J. Gaines on injured reserve Wednesday ending both player’s season.

Kirksey suffered a hamstring injury in the second half of Sunday’s 37-21 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs while Gaines suffered his second concussion in less than a month in the first half.

“I feel for both those guys – I really do,” interim head coach Gregg Williams said. “I care a lot about both – I care about all of these guys, but both of those guys. They mean well and we have to do what is right for them first and then we have to have the next man up.”

The Browns, who have lost four straight, are banged up defensively and the loss of Kirksey is a big blow.

“Kirko is obviously the heart and soul of the defense,” linebacker Joe Schobert said. “He’s the emotional leader out there.”

Schobert, who has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, returned to practice but linebacker Jamie Collins and rookie cornerback Denzel Ward did not practice Wednesday after Ward suffered a hip injury last week.

“I thought he bounced back fine and I thought he moved from his coaching role the last few weeks to right back into the playing role,” Williams said of Schobert. “It was also good to see the reaction of the players around him all of a sudden – how vocal he is and how much he knows. It simplifies the game and some of the alignment worlds for a lot of the people around him, because he can get you lined up in a hurry.”

Williams is optimistic both Ward and Collins, who has a sprained ankle according to Williams, will return to practice Thursday.

Cornerback Terrance Mitchell remains on IR but is eligible to return for the final four games of the season.

The team signed defensive back Juston Burris from the New York Jets practice squad to fill one of the roster spots.

Kirksey totaled 29 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in his fifth season with the Browns and was a team captain.

“His leadership is very good,” Williams said. “He is a vocal guy, he is an inspirational guy, he is a fun guy and very well respected on our team. Again the next guy up has to get ready to roll.”

Who that will be remains to be seen but Tanner Vallejo is a candidate after stepping in against the Chiefs this past Sunday.

“Tanner did pretty good, didn’t he?,” Williams said. “When he first got here, one of the things that we wanted to make sure was that he was going to get thrown immediately into the special teams. We focused everything we could to make sure all of that was done. We had been incrementally packaging him and getting him ready for the next time that he had to be the next man up. Was happy for him.

“He will be one of the guys this week that will get some more plays in the packages that he plays.

Gaines signed a one-year deal as a free agent this offseason and he appeared in six games with two starts totaling 12 tackles, three pass breakups and an interception.

“Just a part of this game. It is not easy,” Williams said. “I think that kind of is masked by a lot of people about what these guys have to do to bounce back from injuries – how they keep their body in shape and everything. I hope the best for him and I will always stay in contact with him as he goes throughout this process right here, but he is a good football player.”