Cleveland Browns may shut down Joe Haden, Andrew Hawkins


Aug 13, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (16) in a preseason NFL football game against the Washington Redskins at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns may be forced to placed Joe Haden and Andrew Hawkins on season-ending injured reserve as they continue to struggle with concussions.

The Cleveland Browns have spent a portion of the season without cornerback Joe Haden and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins.

Now it seems possible that the team will be without them for the rest of the season.

Haden has missed five of the past six games and Hawkins has missed three of the past four as they both remain in the NFL mandated concussion protocol.

On Thursday, head coach Mike Pettine said the club is starting to consider the possibility of placing Haden and Hawkins on season-ending injured reserve.

“When you deal with a topic as sensitive as concussions, the longer guys are out, I think those conversations will come up,” Pettine said. “We’re not there yet. We also have Andrew Hawkins, who’s been out for some time, too. With the season winding down, those are potential discussions to have. Like I said, it’s a sensitive topic and something that ultimately has to come to the table.”

It has been a rough year for two players that the Browns were counting on heading into the season.

Haden struggled early on with a finger injury, one that led to a nonsensical story when he didn’t play in Week 4, then went down with a concussion against Baltimore the following week. He missed two games only to suffer another concussion in his return against the Arizona Cardinals.

Even when Haden did play he struggled, which contributed to a Browns defense that has struggled all season to find any kind of success.

Hawkins led the Browns in receptions and yards in 2014, but never seemed to find his rhythm this season. He suffered a concussion against the St. Louis Rams (on what we still maintain was a cheap shot from Nick Fairley), and after sitting out two games returned against the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he suffered another concussion on what was unquestionably a cheap shot from Jarvis Jones.

If his season is over, Hawkins will finish the year with just 27 receptions, 276 yards and no touchdowns.

The loss of Haden and Hawkins, in addition to hurting the Browns on the field, has shown a bright spotlight on some of the team’s other problems.

Haden’s absence should have opened the door for former first-round pick Justin Gilbert to live up to his draft status and take hold of the cornerback position. Instead, Gilbert continues to struggle, losing playing time to Pierre DesirCharles Gaines and Johnson Bademosi.

A healthy scratch in three games, Gilbert has given no one any reason to believe he can take hold of a role with the defense, and now even he is out with a concussion suffered on a kick return against the Baltimore Ravens.

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Similarly, on offense, Hawkins being sidelined should have opened the door for Dwayne Bowe, one of the “marquee” signings in the off-season. But Bowe has been inactive even more than Gilbert, and has appeared in just five games, totaling three receptions for 31 yards.

Bowe’s inability to bring anything to the offense has made the Browns so desperate that they resorted to resigning Terrelle Pryor this week.

When the starters can’t go and the backups can’t even come close to being remotely competent, well that helps to explain why the Browns are in the position they currently find themselves.

It also makes it harder for the Browns to decide what to do with Haden and Hawkins. If they could count on players like Gilbert and Bowe, the decision to put the health of Haden and Hawkins at the forefront would be an easy one. Especially as the season continues to circle the drain.

The good news is that the Browns don’t seem to be in a rush to force injured players back on the field. As disappointing as it would be to see the season end this way for Haden and Hawkins, the season is lost anyway, so it may be for the best if they eventually do land on injured reserve.