P.J. Walker’s statistics haven’t exactly been impressive.
But the Cleveland Browns have won both games in which he has appeared, which gives them hope heading into Sunday’s matchup at Seattle in a battle of 4-2 teams.
Walker will start at quarterback for Deshaun Watson, who reinjured his strained right rotator cuff last Sunday at Indianapolis.
Walker came off the bench and led the Browns to a 39-38 comeback victory against the Colts, a week after starting in a 19-17 home victory against previously undefeated San Francisco.
Against Indianapolis, Walker drove the Browns 80 yards on a 12-play drive that started with 2:35 to play and ended with the game-winning touchdown with 15 seconds left.
“Every single one of his games we’ve had to make a play and (Walker’s) made them,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “Operating, getting us in and out of plays and has made some big plays when we need them.”
In the two victories, Walker had completed 50 percent of his passes (33 of 66) for 370 yards, but with no touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s been sacked four times.
Stefanski said an MRI exam taken Monday didn’t reveal Watson sustained any new damage to his shoulder, but added the quarterback is dealing with “residual swelling” that’s affecting his ability to throw.
“I feel like this is the best decision for this week,” Stefanski said. “He’s trying like crazy. This is not for lack of effort. He’s making every effort he can to be out there. But with the hit he took, with the swelling, it makes the most sense to focus on rehab this week and then he’ll be out there as soon as he’s ready.”
The Browns got plenty of help last week from defensive end Myles Garrett and kicker Dustin Hopkins, who were selected as the AFC Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week, respectively.
Garrett had nine tackles, two strip-sacks and blocked a field goal. Hopkins won for the second week in a row after making four field goals, including a career-best 58-yarder. He’s the first kicker in NFL history to make a field goal of at least 50 yards in five straight games.
“We don’t want to be kicking too often from 50-plus yards,” Stefanski said. “But the guy just continues to come through for his football team.”
In addition to Watson, other Browns to miss practice time this week were running backs Jerome Ford (ankle) and Kareem Hunt (thigh), wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (back), tight end David Njoku (knee), and linebacker Sione Takitaki (hamstring).
The Seahawks are coming off a 20-10 victory against visiting Arizona last Sunday, a game in which they were without star receiver DK Metcalf (hip). Geno Smith threw touchdown passes to rookies Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jake Bobo.
“It was huge not only for Jaxon and Bobo but I think it was huge for our overall offense to see those guys continue to step up and make great plays,” Smith said.
The Seahawks’ defense was dealt a blow Sunday when edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu suffered a pectoral injury that will require season-ending surgery. Seattle coach Pete Carroll announced Wednesday the team is bringing back Frank Clark, the team’s second-round pick in 2015.
Clark tallied 35 sacks in four seasons with the Seahawks before being traded to Kansas City, where he starred in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl runs. He was released by Denver earlier this month after sighing with the team in the offseason.
“He knows exactly the position that we’re asking him to play that we think the transition to fit into the spot, playing the outside ‘backer spot and rushing the 4-3 stuff, just fits naturally,” Carroll said. “His experience is important with such a young group of guys that he’s with now, so I’m hoping that will all fit together well.”
While Metcalf was a full participant in practice this week, Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III (calf), wide receiver Tyler Lockett (hamstring), linebacker Bobby Wagner (ankle) and guard Phil Haynes (calf) were among those who sat out.