Browns starting weakside linebacker Chris Gocong tore his right Achilles tendon this morning during practice and will be out for the season, coach Pat Shurmur said.
Gocong had an MRI today and will need surgery, Shurmur said. The procedure could be done as early as Monday.
"I'm very fond of Chris and the effort he puts into being a good football player," Shurmur said this evening after the team's walk-through session. "Anytime a player like that gets hurt, unfortunately there's a loss there. But the challenge is for us to cover it up with the guys that are on this roster, so that's where we're at. I talked to Chris. He's fine and unfortunately we're moving on. He understands that."
Gocong suffered the injury during an 11-on-11, goal-line drill. As he tried to defend a touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Cameron, he planted his right leg, then lifted it, grabbed it while the ball was in the air and fell to the ground.
Gocong could not put weight on his leg as trainers helped him onto the cart. He was visibly upset, and starting strongside linebacker Scott Fujita immediately consoled him.
"He’s come so far as a player," Fujita said. "He was rewarded [with a contract extension] last season by the club. He came back this offseason and worked really, really hard. He came into training camp in great shape. He’s making so many plays out here in training camp. It’s tough when you see things like that happen."
Kaluka Maiava and rookies James-Michael Johnson, a fourth-round pick in this year's draft, and Emmanuel Acho, a sixth-round selection, could get chances to fill in for Gocong. Linebackers L.J. Fort and Craig Robertson have also caught the attention of the coaching staff, Shurmur said.
Gocong's injury is a significant blow to the defense. Fujita is suspended for the first three games of the season for his alleged role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal. Starting defensive tackle Phil Taylor suffered a torn pectoral muscle in May and won't be back until late October at the earliest.
"Every year it's something," starting middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "With injuries or what have you, it's a part of the game that unfortunately you don't get used to it. But every time it happens it's a surprise for everyone. For the guys we do have on deck, guys are going to have to step up -- myself and everyone's going to have to take it to the next level."