CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns’ secondary is as thin as a sheet of paper these days thanks to injury.
Cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who has missed the last 5 games, is well aware of it following Sunday’s 23-20 overtime loss in Dallas.
Patterson would like to get back on the field but a sprained left ankle and torn ligament has kept him sidelined for the last 5 games – 6 weeks overall – and he’s not about to rush back too soon.
“I’ve been rehabbing so hard these past 6 weeks,” Patterson said. “It’s a tough injury. I play one of the hardest positions in sports, I have to react and have some type of stable position where I’m not thinking about it. If I do go out there and set myself back, and it’s a chronic theme, then that’s going to fall on me.
“At the end of the day, everybody’s an independent contractor and they all have to put good stuff on film. Nobody’s going to step in a gap for me and be like, ‘O, I forgot he’s got an ankle [injury] and just got beat by three touchdowns.’ That’s the reality of the situation.”
Patterson sustained the injury during the Browns’ week 5 loss at the New York Giants and hasn’t been on the field since.
He’s been out of a walking boot for nearly 2 weeks and began running last week. This week he hopes to test his ankle on the field to see just how far the rehab of it has come along.
While he’s anxious to play, he won’t be pressured by himself or anyone else to come back before he’s ready.
“Pressure plus injury equals a bad result,” Patterson said. “It’s just not going to work. When a guy’s coming back before he’s ready to come back, especially in the world I live in playing corner, a reactive position, I just happen to have a terribly bad ankle sprain. That just doesn’t mix. When one guy is affected, it’s not going to speed up my injury any more. I have to be smart and know that, okay, I go out here [Tuesday] and test it out, am I going to be a liability on Sunday or an asset?”
The secondary, which entered the game against the Cowboys short Patterson and Joe Haden, was flagged 7 times for penalties to keep Cowboy drives alive with first downs.
The ticky-tack, limited contact rules for corners against receivers in the NFL these days is frustrating but Patterson stresses that those are the limitations they have to learn to play within – regardless if they like it or not.
“We live in an offensive oriented league, and that’s that,” Patterson said. “There’s an anticipation sometimes, people want to see points and balls down the field, but I’m not saying that’s the reason a lot of flags are thrown. The reality is that it’s a difficult time to be a corner in this league, because it’s all reaction.
“If [the ref] even assumes that a corner is touching that receiver, a flag is going to get thrown, and that’s the world we live in. Whether it’s the right call or not, that’s the world we live in — an offensive minded, offensive first minded, higher priority type league. Guys have got to play through it, it’s tough.”
The Browns have lost an NFL worst 18 games since 2010 by 7 or less.
Patterson, who has had to watch the last 5 games, lamented the close defeats which are as painful for players as they are for fans.
“I think anytime when you lose in this league, it’s disappointing,” Patterson said. “If you look at the Cleveland Browns over the last 2 years, and you look at games lost by ten points or less in the last few minutes, we’re probably at the top of the list.
“It is tough, but that’s the NFL. It’s a fine line between wins and losses. We just need to find a way.”