The young but impressive Cleveland Browns defense suffered a major blow this week, as linebacker Scott Fujita broke his right hand in the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals (maybe it came from launching Jerome Simpson across the field) and will undergo surgery to repair it, possibly ending his season.
While it isn’t official quite yet, it seems likely that the Browns will shut Fujita down for the rest of the season, leaving the team even thinner at the linebacker position. If Fujita does in fact go on injured reserve, the Browns might add a linebacker. Currently, the plan is to move Chris Gocong to fill in for Fujita, leaving Kaluka Maiava or Titus Brown with weakside duties.
Fujita also missed the last seven games of last season with a knee injury, so the Browns know what it’s like without him, but that doesn’t make it any better. Despite losing a step as he has gotten older, Fujita remains a key figure in the Browns defense. It helps that D’Qwell Jackson is healthy and playing at a high level, but linebacker is a position in which the Browns really couldn’t afford any major injuries.
It will be difficult moving forward without Fujita, as the Browns’ next two games are against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, but it’s something the team is going to have to deal with. If anything, it’s another sign that the Browns need to consider drafting a linebacker early in the 2012 draft.