Browns' Austin Hooper Won't Play vs. Bengals Because of Appendectomy

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2020

Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper (81) warms up before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

The Cleveland Browns will be without one of their offensive weapons for Sunday's AFC North clash against the Cincinnati Bengals

Head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters tight end Austin Hooper will not suit up because he has appendicitis and is undergoing an appendectomy on Friday.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Hooper could miss next week's game against the Las Vegas Raiders as well.

Hooper, who the Browns signed this offseason after he spent the first four years of his career on the Atlanta Falcons, appeared in each of the team's first six games in 2020.

Hooper was a two-time Pro Bowler during his time in Atlanta and was expected to thrive in Cleveland's offense that is loaded with playmakers.

The thought was that opposing defenses would be so focused on stopping Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry on the outside, as well as the rushing attack featuring Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, that Hooper would have plenty of opportunities against single coverage and consistently exploit them.

That hasn't quite been the case yet, as he has 22 catches for 205 yards and one touchdown and is yet to reach even 60 yards in a single game. Hooper failed to tally even 30 yards in any of the last three contests.

Some of that can be attributed to the fact that Cleveland has enjoyed far more success on the ground this year than through the air with quarterback Baker Mayfield struggling with consistency despite an impressive 4-2 record.

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Expect David Njoku and Harrison Bryant to see more playing time with Hooper sidelined.

The Browns already defeated the Bengals once this year, and the offense will look to replicate its success after scoring 35 points in the initial matchup.