Browns notebook: GM doesn't see nerve damage in Greedy Williams' shoulder as career-threatening

Marla Ridenour
Akron Beacon Journal
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The nerve damage in the shoulder of Browns cornerback Greedy WIlliams should not be career-threatening, general manager Andrew Berry said Wednesday. [Ron Schwane/Associated Press]

Browns General Manager Andrew Berry does not believe the axillary nerve damage in cornerback Greedy Williams’ shoulder is career-threatening, Berry said Wednesday on Zoom.

A second-round pick out of Louisiana State in 2019, Williams was hurt during a training camp tackling drill on Aug. 24 and did not play during the Browns’ 12-6 season that ended with an AFC divisional-round playoff loss Sunday in Kansas City.

Asked if he needed to plan as if he would not have Williams in 2021, Berry said, "That's not really in our thought process right now. He's doing a nice job coming along.

"With all the major injuries, you never know how it can progress or what turns it will take, but that's not really ... something that's really at the front of my mind at this point."

Berry said he also expects safety Grant Delpit, a second-round pick from LSU in 2020, to be ready when the Browns take the field this summer. Delpit ruptured an Achilles tendon on the same day Williams was hurt.

"We are confident in both guys," Berry said. "You never know with significant injuries how that ultimately unfolds. But the one thing I can tell you about Grant and Greedy, the way that those two have attacked their approach to rehab, staying engaged with the team and really they've prepared every week as if they were going to play, even though it became obvious that they weren't.

"I'm very optimistic, very bullish on their physical recovery and then ultimately when they do get back being able to play at a high level for us."

Berry praised Delpit and Williams for how they handled their situations.

"Those two individuals deserve a ton of credit because that's not easy to go through when in Grant's case you're a rookie, in Greedy's case you're in your second year, it can be discouraging when all you want is quick progress and that's not necessarily happening," Berry said. "But I think both those guys have done a phenomenal job with their rehab, and certainly we look forward to having them in 2021.”

Berry's optimism on Williams' return may not preclude the Browns from adding cornerbacks in the draft or free agency.

"You can never have enough corners. You really can't, but especially in this defense," Berry said. "So that's always an area that we would want to be deep going into the year. They're hard to find, but it's obviously an area we want to continue to be deep."

This season the Browns relied on seven-year veteran cornerback Terrance Mitchell, who started all 18 games. He's started 38 of his 69 career games, and three of four in the postseason. Pro Football Focus graded Mitchell tied for 33rd among 121 qualifying cornerbacks in the 2020 regular season.

"I thought he did a really nice job probably playing a bigger role than he would have anticipated coming into the year," Berry said of Mitchell. "I thought he did a nice job with zone. He performed for us. He's fantastic in the building. So really my hat's off to what he was able to accomplish this year.”

Williams also missed four games as a rookie with a hamstring injury, so he has been sidelined for 22 of 34 games since he joined the Browns.

With Delpit and September trade acquisition Ronnie Harrison, the Browns believe they have a promising safety tandem.

"Ronnie played really well this year," Berry said. "That's not an easy task for a guy to come in really on the eve of the regular season, learn a new system and then jump right in, really acclimate and make plays when his number was called upon. Ronnie is 23 years old. ... We were excited with what we saw out of Ronnie’s performance this year." 

Ready for more virtual work

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of a traditional NFL Scouting Combine, which is normally held for a week in February in Indianapolis.

Interviews will be done virtually. Workouts will be limited to college pro days.

Berry isn't fazed.

“I don't really think it's going to be that big of a deal,” he said. “We went through a whole spring where it was virtual really on the fly mid-process. Now at this point all of us know how to use Zoom, right?

“The reality of the combine is you're still going to get the medical information. I think the league has done a nice job and in really organizing that. We did a ton of player virtual interviews last spring. It seems like that will continue into this year. We'll be able to ascertain the physical measurable data that we need. I don't see any reason that we can’t work through the spring and have a nice process in place and have a high-quality draft. I don't really see that as an impediment at all.”

Berry said he won't attend the Senior Bowl next week in Mobile, Alabama.

“The rules are a little bit different this year obviously with the pandemic,” he said. “We'll have a contingent go down there, and we'll be ready to go evaluate all of those guys. We'll be well-represented to get our work done.”

There's also the possibility of another virtual offseason beginning in April.

“I don't know that it will have a major impact just because we've had plenty of practice at this point [with the virtual program],” Berry said. “We'll be prepared to handle whatever is thrown at us.”

Coach Kevin Stefanski guided the Browns virtually last year until training camp practices began in August.

“He's a fantastic partner,” Berry said. “I'm incredibly blessed to be working with him.”

Berry and Stefanski were new to their jobs last year, when they were forced to learn how to adjust quickly and put out fires.

“The No. 1 thing has been how much time is spent with what I would call crisis management,” Berry said. “I realize that we obviously had a unique season just dealing with everything COVID-related, but if it's not COVID-related, it would always be something else.”

— Nate Ulrich

Myles Garrett is OK

All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett won't need surgery on the oblique injury he suffered early in the second quarter against the Chiefs, Berry said. Garrett logged 46 of 68 snaps (68%) and had two tackles, including a sack, in the divisional-round loss.

“He really gutted through an injury that we've actually had several guys that have finished games with it and then missed some time afterward,” Berry said. “But it's nothing that should really impact his availability as we go into the offseason. He'll heal up. He'll be ready to go. He had a great year.”

— Nate Ulrich

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