The Cleveland Browns will not have top tight end Austin Hooper when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7. Head coach Kevin Stefanski noted that Hooper has been ruled out due to appendicitis and is set to undergo an appendectomy on Friday. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, his absence could even extend beyond this matchup and into Week 8 when the Browns face the Raiders at home.
Hooper has been Cleveland's No. 1 tight end this season after inking a $44 million deal with the club this offseason following a four-year stint with the Falcons to begin his career. The 6-foot-4, 254 pounder has started in all six of Cleveland's games to this point and has totaled 22 receptions for 205 yards and a touchdown.
With Hooper sidelined, that will bring rookie Harrison Bryant and David Njoku into a more prominent role. This could be an especially intriguing situation to unfold for Njoku, who reportedly is still seeking a trade out of Cleveland. The former first-round pick has been somewhat buried behind Hooper on the depth chart so this sudden availability at the starting spot could not only give Njoku an opportunity at significant snaps but potentially showcase himself to any suitors on the trade market.
This is also a very advantageous matchup for Browns tight ends. Just last week, Colts tight ends Trey Burton and Jack Doyle combined for 87 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals secondary.