BEREA, Ohio (AP) Defensive end Phil Taylor will not be part of the Cleveland Browns’ push for the playoffs.
Taylor was placed on injured reserve Friday with a right knee injury that will require surgery, ending his season after just five games.
The 6-foot-3, 335-pounder missed four games earlier in the year following an arthroscopic procedure on the same knee, but coach Mike Pettine said the current injury is ”unrelated to it.”
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”It’s unfortunate because Phil did give us a spark last week in Cincinnati, and we will miss him out there,” Pettine said. ”At the same time, we know this is something that definitely needs to be corrected, so we’re shutting Phil down.”
The coach said Taylor did not damage his anterior cruciate ligament during Cleveland’s 24-3 win over the Bengals on Nov. 6, but declined to reveal specifics. The victory allowed the Browns to move into first place in the AFC North with a 6-3 record.
Third-year pro Billy Winn is expected to start in Taylor’s spot Sunday when Cleveland hosts the Houston Texans at FirstEnergy Stadium.
”You guys know Phil, this is a huge loss for us,” Winn said. ”He’s super energetic and he brings all the guys together, whether it’s from a detailed, focused standpoint or from an enthusiastic standpoint.
”It stinks, but injuries are a big part of the game and I think we have the guys to carry the flag for him.”
Taylor has been a fixture on the Browns’ defensive line since being a first-round pick in 2011, starting 42 of 44 games with 140 tackles and seven sacks.
The Baylor product sprained his right knee Oct. 5 at Tennessee and underwent surgery three days later, only to be hurt again in his comeback against Cincinnati. Taylor will have another operation next week, but Pettine said he should be healthy for the start of training camp.
”Phil Taylor is a special player, just look at his pedigree and the man-in-the-middle mentality that he brings,” said safety Tashaun Gipson, who leads the NFL with six interceptions. ”That’s tough to come by, which is why he’s definitely going to be missed, especially since we’re on a roll right now and fighting for the playoffs.”
Cleveland also will be without Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion) and safety Johnson Bademosi (concussion) against the Texans, but could have Gipson in the lineup.
Gipson has not practiced since being diagnosed with a concussion following the Bengals game, but was cleared to resume non-contact activities Friday. The 5-11, 205-pound ballhawk has an NFL-high 11 interceptions since the start of last season.
”I feel good mentally and physically, but I respect the whole concussion-protocol process, so it’s in the doctors’ hands and in God’s hands,” Gipson said. ”It’s important to be out there because we can go 7-3 and set ourselves up in a real good position.
”It’s about me helping the team, and I’m confident that I can do whatever I have to do to get on the field.”
NOTES: Cameron will miss his third straight game, and Pettine admitted there is no timetable for his return. The free agent to be has incurred three concussions in the last 23 months. ”You don’t know, it’s a tricky thing,” Pettine said. ”It’s obviously a touchy subject, and I defer very much to the medical staff.” . LB Keith Pough, a first-year pro from Howard, was signed to fill the roster spot vacated by Taylor. … The Browns have not made the playoffs since 2002 and last finished with a winning record in 2007.
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