Browns inside linebacker Eric Barton has a serious neck injury that could jeopardize his season, Chris Mortensen is reporting on ESPN.com.
Citing a source close to Barton, Mortensen said a spine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic diagnosed Barton with a bulging disc between the C3 and C4 vertebrae in his neck after Sunday's 30-6 loss at Chicago.
Barton left late in the first half against the Bears with what was announced as a shoulder injury. He was seen in the locker room Tuesday and did not appear to be in pain.
The Browns have already lost their other starting inside linebacker, D'Qwell Jackson, who suffered a pectoral injury Oct. 18 at Pittsburgh. He underwent surgery and is out for the season.
Coach Eric Mangini initially went with rookie Kaluka Maiava to replace Jackson. But on Sunday, outside linebacker David Bowens moved inside and Jason Trusnik took over outside. Bowens made the defensive calls when Barton left the game and Mangini praised the defense for its communication, largely thanks to Bowens. Without Barton, Maiava played on running downs, with special teamer Blake Costanzo was pressed into action in the nickel.
Bowens is 32 and in his 11th season. He said he played all 71 snaps against the Bears and was feeling it Monday. It seems unlikely he could hold up without help for the remaining eight games.
Barton, also 32 and an 11-year veteran, joined the Browns in March after spending the previous six years with the New York Jets, the last three under Mangini.