Rookie re­ceiver Wil­lies breaks col­lar­bone

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jeff Schudel

Der­rick Wil­lies suf­fered a bro­ken col­lar­bone as the Browns were wind­ing up their prepa­ra­tion for the Charg­ers.

“We still have (Damion) Rat­ley. There’s Duke (John­son). There are all kinds of ways, if that’s the case. ” – Coach Hue Jack­son

Der­rick Wil­lies suf­fered a bro­ken col­lar­bone in prac­tice Oct. 12 as the Browns were wind­ing up their prepa­ra­tion for the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers and might miss the rest of the sea­son.

The rookie wide re­ceiver came off the bench last week to make three catches against the Ravens af­ter Rashard Hig­gins suf­fered a knee in­jury. The Browns were al­ready thin at wide re­ceiver be­cause of the Hig­gins in­jury. Hig­gins is listed as week-to-week with a sprained MCL and will not play against the high-scor­ing Los An­ge­les Charg­ers on Oct. 14 at FirstEn­ergy Sta­dium.

“He came down on it a lit­tle funny, so we’ll see where we are,” Coach Hue Jack­son said be­fore Wil­lies was di­ag­nosed with a bro­ken col­lar­bone.

Iron­i­cally, Wil­lies was in­jured on his 24th birth­day.

The Browns de­clined to add a vet­eran wide re­ceiver af­ter Hig­gins was in­jured. Wil­lies fig­ured to be a ma­jor part of the game plan against the Charg­ers, but Jack­son is ready to look else­where on the cur­rent ros­ter with­out reach­ing out to a vet­eran this late in the week.

“We still have (Damion) Rat­ley,” Jack­son said. “There’s Duke (John­son). There are all kinds of ways, if that’s the case. Let’s just see where we are.”

Rat­ley, a rookie six­thround draft choice, played

one snap in the first five games.

John­son, the fourth-year run­ning back who last year led the Browns with 74 catches, has touched the ball only 27 times in five games. He would wel­come the chance to step in for Hig­gins and Wil­lies.

Rod Streater, signed as a free agent by the Browns on Sept. 17, is in his sixth sea­son. He is look­ing for his first catch with his new team, but he has 127 ca­reer catches – 60 with the Oak­land Raiders in 2013.

“I’ve been in this sit­u­a­tion be­fore,” Streater said on Oct. 12 in the locker room. “I was with the Chiefs (in 2016) and then in Week One was traded to the Nin­ers

and had to go out there and play on Mon­day night, so I’m used to it. It was no dif­fer­ent when I got here. I had to learn the plays. I had to learn spe­cial teams and go out and make plays, so it’s pretty sim­i­lar.”

Rat­ley is look­ing for­ward to his op­por­tu­nity. He boasted to Streater that he’s the fastest player on the team, which does not equate to be­ing a suc­cess­ful re­ceiver.

“I’m go­ing to try to and bring the best of my abil­i­ties in ev­ery­thing I can do, catch­ing and run­ning, do­ing ev­ery­thing I can to help the team where (Wil­lies) was go­ing to help the team,” Rat­ley said. “Next man up, that’s what it is.

“It’s a lit­tle dif­fi­cult. We’ve got to move around, do cer­tain things and learn new stuff, but it’s part of the NFL. Have to go home, study, get up, study, study all day to­mor­row and be ready for the game on Sun­day.”

The Wil­lies in­jury is go­ing to al­low the Charg­ers to con­cen­trate even harder on Browns top re­ceiver Jarvis Landry. Landry leads the Browns with 29 catches.

The Browns could el­e­vate wide re­ceiver D’Mari Scott from the prac­tice squad if they de­cide to put Wil­lies on in­jured re­serve. They would have to clear an­other spot for Scott if they keep Wil­lies on the 53-man ros­ter.

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