The Cleveland Browns are so low on safeties for today’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers that there’s a very good chance they start a cornerback there instead. The latest blow was a self-inflicted one, with starter Damarious Randall, who is healthy, not participating in today’s game by the discretion of head coach Freddie Kitchens.
While it’s easy to want to speculate that this in some way ties in to the fact that Randall delivered a hit to Diontae Johnson the last time around that was so egregious it resulted in him being ejected from the game, there is no indication that that incident was in any way related.
According to Cleveland.com, the decision was made as a result of “something that happened during the week”, but there was no further elaboration on that. It was also said that Randall did not participate in practice on the portion that was open to the media on Friday.
The Browns’ other starting safety, Morgan Burnett, has already been on the Reserve/Injured List for a week after he suffered an Achilles injury in the game against the Steelers. When Burnett was injured in that game, and Randall was ejected, the Browns had to rely on Juston Burris to move into the starting lineup, and then employed rookie Sheldrick Redwine, but they also used cornerback T.J. Carrie at safety as well, and that is reportedly an option for today’s game.
With another safety, Eric Murray, ruled out for the game due to injury, the Browns are extremely thin at the position. The only other true safety on the roster is J.T. Hassell, an undrafted rookie who was promoted from the practice squad after Burnett was placed on the Reserve/Injured List.
Cleveland did have another safety who likely would be starting today’s game, had he not flown off the handle. That would be Jermaine Whitehead, who several weeks ago after having a rough game in which he played through injury, took to Twitter to respond to those who called him out, using threats of violence.
Curiously enough, Randall lamented the fact that he wasn’t able to do that. He told reporters that he received death threats after the Steelers game in the wake of his hit on Johnson—for which he expressed regret after he saw the replay for himself—and more or less said that it’s unfair that fans can issue death threats, but players can’t respond.
“It’s okay for fans to do it to us, but then when we say something back, it’s a problem, we get in trouble”, he told reporters, with a baffling lack of understanding of why professionals would be held to a higher standard. Whitehead “lost his job behind something like that, but it’s okay for them to openly say stuff like that. I find that so crazy to me”.
He’ll have plenty of time to consider how crazy it is this afternoon, since he won’t have anything to do. He didn’t even make the trip to Pittsburgh with the team.