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Monday, August 8, 2022

Browns activate WR David Bell and LB Anthony Walker off injury lists on Day 9 of training camp

BEREA, Ohio — Help is on the way for the Browns at their injury-marred receiver position.

Third-round receiver David Bell was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform list on Day 9 of Browns training camp with his foot injury, believed to be a stress fracture, and will take the field for the afternoon practice.

Linebacker Anthony Walker was also activated off the non-football injury list with his groin injury.

The return of Bell is a welcome sight for a receiving corps hit with minor setbacks this camp. In addition to Bell, second-year pro Anthony Schwartz is sideline with a knee injury and rookie Michael Woods II, their sixth-round pick out of Oklahoma, is out with a hamstring injury suffered on Thursday amid a terrific camp.

Javon Wims has been out with an illness, rookie Isaiah Weston is believed to have torn both his ACL and meniscus and is on injured reserve, and Amari Cooper missed a day with an ankle injury.

But receivers coaching Chad O’shea has looked on the bright side.

“When I step in front of the group and we have our meetings, when I talk about challenges, we talk about opportunities,’’ he said Wednesday. “We flip that word. It truly is an opportunity for other guys to show us what they have. Although it might be a setback for the individual that suffered the injury, whether it’s short-term or long-term, what a great opportunity that is for guys like Mike Woods, Mike Harley – some of these young rookies to get an opportunity to go out there and show all the work we’ve done in the meetings and we’ve had on the field individually, now can go into  huddle and they can show they deserve to be here as a Cleveland Brown.”

Bell’s timely return is also crucial because the Browns are counting on him to play a big role this season, possibly even as the No. 2 receiver behind Cooper at some point.

Kevin Stefanski, who’s judicious in his praise, gushed about Bell after the draft.

“You were the first guy I watched, and right away I was like ‘we need to get this guy,’” Stefanski told Bell in an introductory meeting shown the Browns’ in-house ‘Building the Browns’ series. “You can ask our GM, I was like, ‘This day needs to end with David Bell on our team.’

“Just your ability to catch the ball, which I think is the best in the draft, your ability to get open and just who you are as a person fits who we are.”

O’Shea is confident Bell can catch back up, especially because he banked so many reps with Deshaun Watson during the offseason program.

“Any time you’re not on the field, it presents a different type of challenge, but no different challenge than when you’re presented with other things,’’ O’Shea said. “We do enough with him from a walkthrough standpoint, we’re very intensive in a meeting room setting with him, so we spend as much time as we can to make sure we close that gap so when he does get on that field, he’s in position to know the information and go out there and try to execute. Obviously, we want as many on the field as we can. If you’re available to us, you have a chance to improve, but he certainly can improve, although not being out there.”

As for Bell being slated for the slot, O’Shea said, “It’s wherever he proves that he has value for our team, but to be able to prove that you need to learn it all. So we want him to take the big picture, to understand everything about each spot and then we’ll plug and play you where we think you’re best for the team.”

As for Walker, he’ll join the middle linebacker rotation with Jacob Phillips, who’s captured the attention of the coaching staff this season, and is making a case for himself to start there this season alongside Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

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