The Cleveland Browns defense suffered a major blow on Saturday, as linebacker Chris Gocong injured his right Achilles tendon, effectively ending his 2012 season. He could have the surgery as soon as Monday, and while the severity of the injury will be reassessed at that point, no one should expect to see him on the field this year.
This is a big problem for the Browns. The linebacker position was arguably the weakest aspect of the defense going into this season, and it already has to deal with Scott Fujita’s three-game suspension. With D’Qwell Jackson in the middle, Gocong was the starting strongside linebacker in Fujita’s absence. Rookie James-Michael Johnson and Kaluka Maiava have been battling for that open weakside position (at least as long as Fujita was out).
Now, the linebacker position is in complete disarray, even when Fujita returns. Jackson is a stalwart, but what will be going on around him? Fujita is obviously near the end of his career and Maiava is better in limited time. Johnson is certainly the wild card of the bunch, but expectations shouldn’t be soaring for the fourth-round pick.
Add this to defensive tackle Phil Taylor’s pectoral injury and the Browns are facing the possibility of working with an even-shakier defense than last year.