Jan 3, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs (5) is chased by Cleveland Browns defensive end Olivier Vernon (54) during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Browns DE Vernon ruptures Achilles, out for playoffs

Defensive end Olivier Vernon suffered a ruptured left Achilles tendon on Sunday, meaning the Cleveland Browns will be without a key piece of their defense in the playoffs.

Vernon sustained the injury in the fourth quarter of the Browns 24-22 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and will undergo surgery, coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday.

“Obviously I’m very disappointed for OV,” Stefanski said, per the team’s website. “He was playing at a high level and we’ll miss his leadership.”

The Browns (11-5) open the playoffs on Sunday night in Pittsburgh in a rematch with the Steelers (12-4).

Vernon’s responsibilities likely will shift to Adrian Clayborn and Porter Gustin. Clayborn brings a playoff pedigree, having won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots.

“Those guys are important in January,” Stefanski said. “Adrian’s a leader of this football team and he doesn’t have to say much. It’s how he prepares and how he goes about his business. He’s been there, he’s done that. It’s great for our players to see a guy that even though he has that experience, he comes in every day ready to work.”

Vernon, 30, finishes the season with 36 tackles — 12 for loss — 16 quarterback hits, nine sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 14 games (13 starts). He and Myles Garrett, who has 12 sacks, made up a formidable tandem for opposing offensive lines.

The Browns acquired Vernon from the New York Giants in a trade in March 2019. He is due to become a free agent in March.

The Miami Dolphins selected Vernon in the third round of the 2012 draft. In 127 career games, he has 389 tackles. 63.5 sacks, 157 quarterback hits and nine forced fumbles.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
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