Browns coach Pat Shurmur has confirmed that starting weakside LB Chris Gocong has an ankle injury. Shurmur declined to comment further on the injury, which was in the process of being evaluated. He added that if it's a major injury, the team will consider bringing in someone from the outside.
The Browns have concentrated on bolstering other areas the past two seasons and have paid little attention to the LB corps. That could come back to haunt them if Kaluka Maiava and rookie James-Michael Johnson fail to step up. The team will likely lose starting strongside LB Scott Fujita for the first three games to suspension for his alleged role in Bountygate.
"This is a lesson to people playing behind people -- that you're just a play away from being out there," said Shurmur, who added that both Maiava and Johnson can play any of the LB positions.
Shurmur also said he's encouraged with the play of free-agent LB L.J. Fort. But it will likely be Maiava replacing Fujita and Johnson taking Gocong's spot at first. Maiava understands that the Gocong injury weakens the defense, but he's gained confidence in the young LBs.
"It's real unfortunate," he said. "He's a great leader. The defense works better with him. I'm just hoping for the best. But if it's as bad as I think it is, it's the next guy up. [The young LBs] have been awesome. They have a good grasp of the playbook, and they run around making the right reads."
Stay dialed in on the Cleveland Browns on Twitter at @CBSSportsNFLCLE throughout the season with on-site updates from CBSSports.com RapidReports correspondent Marty Gitlin.