Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden will be a game time decision Sunday in Dallas due to an oblique injury.
Haden sustained the injury during practice Wednesday and has not practiced since.
Coach Pat Shurmur said the injury was of the non-contact variety.
“It’s something that can happen with a very harmless movement and we’ll just see where he’s at,” Shurmur said. “It feels better today and on game day we’ll decide if he can go.
“If he can play he will, if not we’ll adjust.”
Haden missed 4 games earlier this season after being suspended for unapproved use of Adderall. The Browns went 0-4 in his absence during the suspension and gave up an average of 30.5 points per game defensively.
Shurmur downplayed the significance of the possibility that Haden won’t be available.
“The next guy will do a terrific job,” Shurmur said. “Let’s not everybody get worried now. We’re gonna load up the plane with our guys and go down and play a football game.
“I’m excited about the work we put in. I’m excited about the team we’re going to take down there, and we’re going to make every effort to do what it takes to win the game.”
Haden likely would cover Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, who has 45 catches for 590 yards and 3 touchdowns this season.
If Haden can’t play Sunday, the Browns will be thin in the secondary trying to defend Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Whitten.
The trio has combined for 1,844 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2012.
“The guys behind [Haden] have to step up,” linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said. “This is a game that’s going to test our will, our fight to see how we match up and how well we can play with those guys.”
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson remains sidelined with a sprained left ankle and will miss his 5th straight game.
Buster Skrine likely will replace Haden in the starting lineup with rookie Trevin Wade taking over at nickel.
“Joe definitely wants to play and he’s doing everything he can to get back,” Skrine said. “If he can play he’ll definitely be out there.”
Wade hasn’t been seen much since getting burned on a 50-yard touchdown by Andrew Hawkins.
“It doesn’t stay in my mind,” Wade said. “The guy I covered had one catch the whole game, and it was a touchdown. But as a team, we all missed tackles on that play. Other than that one catch, I don’t believe he caught the ball. But nobody sees that. Everybody just remembers the bad, but I remember the good. And that’s what you’ve got to do as a defensive back.”
The possible loss of Haden comes during the same week that defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin is slated to return which would’ve made the defense as strong and healthy as it’s been all year.
But now this.
“I’ve been here long enough to know that this stuff happens at the craziest time – especially for us,” Jackson said. “For whatever reason it happened this week; don’t know if he’s not going to be out there for sure but not having Joe out there is going to be a big blow, a huge blow.”