The Cleveland Browns were one of the biggest surprises in Week 1 of the 2023 season. They hosted their AFC North rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, in their home opener. It was a chance for the Browns to set the tone for their season against a perennial contender.
That is exactly what they did as Cleveland hammered Cincinnati, 24-3. It was a dominant performance in every facet of the game as the Browns found success in everything that they did. However, it wasn’t all positive.
In the first half on a Deshaun Watson dropback, left tackle Jack Conklin injured his left knee. He was rolled into by Bengals’ defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who was rushing the passer from the other side of the line.
Conklin needed a cart to help get off the field. According to head coach Kevin Stefanski, early tests on the knee were not positive but he didn’t share the extent. Unfortunately for the Browns, the worst-case scenario has come to light.
According to Jake Trotter of ESPN, Conklin has been diagnosed with a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee. Tests revealed the extent of the damage as he will be forced to undergo season-ending surgery.
This is a truly crushing blow to the Browns, who looked to have one of the best offensive line groups in the NFL. Conklin was entering his fourth season with the franchise after coming over from the Tennessee Titans as a free agent.
He was an All-Pro with the Browns in his first season with the franchise in 2020, but he has struggled to replicate that success. Injuries have played a major part as he also tore his patellar in his right knee in 2021, limiting him to seven games that season.
With Conklin sidelined for the remainder of the season, the Browns could turn to rookie fourth-round pick Dawand Jones. He took over for Conklin in the lineup following the injury and could receive the first shot at replacing him in the starting group going forward.