It took just two weeks for the Cleveland Browns to have their season turned upside down.
Cleveland lost star running back Nick Chubb to a gruesome season-ending knee injury, and now the Browns will begin moving forward Sunday when they face the visiting Tennessee Titans.
“You don’t replace Nick Chubb,” Stefanski said. “You just don’t do that. Great players in the league, you look around, they go out. It’s always not one person that replaces a player of (Chubb’s) caliber. So, everybody’s got to do a little bit more, a little bit more everywhere.”
One player forced to step up in Chubb’s absence will be Jerome Ford, now the Browns’ No. 1 running back. Ford gained 106 yards on 16 carries and added a receiving touchdown on Monday.
“I honestly think Jerome Ford is a good running back, even prior to him getting in the game (against Pittsburgh) and playing how he was,” Tennessee linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair said. “He’s physical, so I think he’s just as good. Obviously not Nick Chubb, but he’s his own back and I like him a lot.”
Although Stefanski’s thoughts are with Chubb, he knows his team can’t sit around and mope with the Titans (1-1) coming to town.
“We’ve gotta move on,” Stefanski said. “We got a big one this week. We’ll miss Nick, and we will support Nick, but we’re moving on to Tennessee.”
The Titans beat the Chargers 27-24 in overtime last Sunday, holding Los Angeles to just 61 yards on the ground. Tennessee’s front seven will be out for more success against the running game when it goes up against a backfield in transition.
To help break through that front, Cleveland (1-1) brought back running back Kareem Hunt on a one-year deal on Wednesday.
Hunt spent the past four seasons with the Browns, rushing for 1,874 yards and 16 TDs.
“I think it’s a big deal,” Stefanski said of Hunt’s familiarity with the offense. “There’s obviously some newness that Kareem is learning, but he can pick up things very quickly, so that definitely factored into (bringing him back).”
Perhaps the Browns can take a page or two from Tennessee’s book as they prepare to move forward with a new-look offense. The Titans have been getting contributions from all over, most notably from rookie running back Tyjae Spears and second-year wideout Treylon Burks.
Spears rushed for 49 yards on eight carries in the win over Los Angeles, while Burks had three receptions for 76 yards.
“I think a good offense, especially how we operate, operates best when everybody can do what they do best,” said wide receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, who gave Tennessee a late lead Sunday with a TD reception. “That was a taste of it last week.”
Spears could take on an even bigger role this week depending on the status of Derrick Henry, who was limited during Wednesday’s practice with a toe injury.
Linebackers Harold Landry (hamstring) and Denico Autry (foot) were also limited, while cornerback Anthony Kendall (hip), offensive tackle Peter Skoronski (abdomen) and linebacker Luke Gifford (quad) did not practice.
Cleveland held a walkthrough on Wednesday, but had it practiced in full, receiver Amari Cooper (groin/shoulder), cornerback Greg Newsome II (elbow) and defensive end Za’Darius Smith (ankle/thigh) all would have been out.