The arrival of Jim Schwartz helped nearly every defender on the Cleveland Browns roster improve this season. One player who might have benefited more than others is Grant Delpit, who was the team's leading tackler through the first 13 games. He was put in a position to use his instincts and athleticism and responded in a major way.
Delpit was rewarded with a three-year extension worth $36 million but not long after that, he was lost to a groin injury. He was placed on the IR and missed the final four games. Still, there was hope he could return for the playoffs and now that seems more likely to happen as he was activated off the injured reserve on Wednesday.
Now cleared to practice, Delpit isn't officially back for the Wild Card game but the coaching staff believes he could return. If so, that would be a huge boost for a team that had seven players miss practice on Tuesday.
Browns backup safeties excelled in place of Grant Delpit
The only positive thing for Cleveland when it comes to injuries is how many players have been able to step up when pressed into action. The fact that five quarterbacks have started throughout the season has been highlighted several times but they've also been without their top three safeties for several games.
That's led to undrafted rookie Ronnie Hickman and second-year player D'Anthony Bell seeing the field more than expected. They've also both played exceptionally well with Hickman earning impressive coverage grades from PFF while Bell has been making highlight-reel picks.
Cleveland will gladly take Delpit over their reserves. He's just a difference-maker. Still, knowing they can rely on their backups gives them plenty of confidence that they can continue to get the job done even if Delpit needs more time before taking the field.