Cleveland Browns defensive back E.J. Gaines (28) reacts after intercepting a pass against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Oakland Coliseum.

© Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Browns CB E.J. Gaines in concussion protocol

T.J. Carrie will replace Gaines against Buccaneers

October 18, 2018

Daryl Ruiter-Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Cornerback E.J. Gaines is in concussion protocol and he is expected to miss Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.

The news comes as a major blow to a thinning team as they prepare to take on the most potent passing team in the league.

“Yeah, did not take a hit or anything like that. Just kind of strange, but that is how that stuff works,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “We will have to work through it.”

Gaines reported symptoms Thursday morning and Jackson maintains that the concussion did not occur during Wednesday’s practice.

“No, Gaines did not hurt himself at practice. Gaines came in and had symptoms,” Jackson said. “It has nothing to do with practice. Practice was yesterday. This happened today. I just think it was something that had been lingering. Maybe he did not say much. When they put them into the protocol once they check them, that is what it is. That is how it is.”

The loss of Gaines this week leaves a gaping hole in the back end of the defense against the Buccaneers high-powered offense that features the top passing game in the league. Tampa Bay averages 368.4 yards through the air per game and 448.6 total yards per game, which ranks second in the league.

The Browns already face a tough task in trying to slow Mike Evans – 33 catches for 484 yards and three touchdowns, DeSean Jackson – 21 catches for 501 yards with three touchdowns and Chris Godwin – 21 catches for 249 yards with four touchdowns this weekend and losing another corner doesn’t help.

“They are good. Make no doubt about it,” Jackson said. “We have one that is averaging 23 yards a reception, another guy that is 14 yards per reception and another guy that is [averaging] 13 or 12, whatever he is –Goodwin. They all are making plays. They have all scored touchdowns. Then you throw the tight ends in there, too.

“They have some weapons. Guys that can score the ball. It is a big challenge for us. Have to go play well.”

On top of Tampa Bay’s supporting cast, there is quarterback Jameis Winston, who threw for 395 yards and four touchdowns last weekend for Tampa Bay in a 34-29 loss at Atlanta.

“He can throw the football with anybody. He is a true passer in my opinion,” Jackson said. “He is one of those guys that when he goes back there, he is not going to just die easy. You have to take this guy down because he is still trying to make plays at times when you think that other guys are going down – he still has the ability to still make a play down the field with the ball.

“The guy is completing 75 percent of his passes. We have our work cut out for us.”

Gaines, who was elevated to a starting role after Terrance Mitchell suffered a broken wrist at Oakland Sept. 30, has totaled 11 tackles – 9 solo, three pass break-ups and an interception this season.

T.J. Carrie will replace Gaines this week at Tampa Bay and Brien Boddy-Calhoun will move to nickel.

“So many things can happen, so you always have to prepare yourself as a starter,” Carrie said. “It’ll be a little adjustment, but we’ll make it work.

The Browns signed Carrie this offseason to a four-year, $31 million contract after he spent the first four years of his career in Oakland, but Mitchell won the corner job opposite Denzel Ward and Carrie slid behind Gaines on the depth chart.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Carrie said. “All of us on the back end are really going to have to bone up. They have talented receivers with the guys that they have.

“Week in and week out there’s always going to be a challenge with receivers in this league. So many teams in this league have number one, number two and number three receivers so for our matchup, it’s going out there and being confident in what we do.”

Carrie has totaled 26 tackles, - 18 solo, with a sack and pass defensed in a reserve role through six games this season.