Browns have two potential breakout stars in Week 8 against the Bengals

Browns, Harrison Bryant. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Browns, Harrison Bryant. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Browns will face the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8 in what will be a must-win game for them, as they sit at 2-5 through the season so far. Due to injuries on both sides of the ball, there are opportunities for a couple of players to have a breakout game on Monday night.

Here is a look at two players who are most likely to break out in their matchup against their in-state rivals.

2. Harrison Bryant, Browns TE

The Browns may be without David Njoku for multiple weeks now after he suffered an ankle injury in the Browns’ Week 7 defeat. Njoku was a key part of this offense, but Harrison Bryant can be expected to effectively step in at tight end during Njoku’s absence.

There was a lot of buzz surrounding Bryant this offseason, as he had apparently made strides in multiple aspects of his game. The third-year product out of Florida Atlantic has become an effective blocker this season and has been a sure-handed receiver throughout his career.

Bryant actually has a higher career catch percentage than Njoku, at 67.8 percent through his three-year career. Jacoby Brissett is going to continue to utilize his tight ends with Njoku sidelined, as tight ends are a big part of Kevin Stefanski’s offense.

With both Njoku and Pharaoh Brown sidelined, Bryant is primed for a big game on Monday night. Expect him to total five-plus receptions for over 50 receiving yards in the game as one of Brissett’s top targets outside of Amari Cooper.

1. Deion Jones, Browns LB

With Anthony Walker Jr. and Jacob Phillips now both on injured reserve, Deion Jones is the last man standing at middle linebacker. Jones is likely to see a sizable increase in snap count against Cincinnati after only playing 52 percent of snaps in Week 7.

The Browns have had struggles at the middle linebacker position since losing Anthony Walker Jr. in Week 1, as Jacob Phillips had a tough time replacing him in the following weeks.

That’s why the Browns acquired Deion Jones, who has had a very successful career at middle linebacker with the Atlanta Falcons. Jones has had over 100 tackles in five of his previous six seasons and has also proved to be effective in coverage, with 11 career interceptions.

The Bengals have a great running back and tight end combination in Joe Mixon and Hayden Hurst, so Jones will be asked to do a lot in the run game and pass coverage. It’s absolutely crucial that he provides consistency in the run game, as missed tackles have hurt the Browns specifically in the past few weeks.

Three of the last four matchups between the Browns and Bengals have been decided by 5 points or less, so Jones is going to have to make an impact late in this matchup in order to secure a win against the Bengals and their lethal offensive attack.