The Patriots will be facing a Browns defense that has quietly been very effective, particularly against the run this season. However, they'll be facing them down a key player, as starting defensive end Desmond Bryant has been placed on the reserve/non-football injury list.
According to a Browns team spokesman, Bryant will be having a minor procedure done this week. He has talked in the past about having an ablation to correct the issue, which is typically low-risk and has a short recovery period. Both the Browns and Bryant fully expect him to continue his career next season.
However, the designation to the NFI list (the same list that Armond Armstead has been on since training camp) ends Bryant's 2013 season. As a 3-4 defensive end, his statistics don't necessarily jump off the page (3.5 sacks and 31 tackles), but Bryant has started all 12 games for a Browns defense that has allowed a stingy 3.7 yards a carry this season.
Of course, Bryant is best known not for his football skills but for having one of the greatest mug shots of all time back in February.
Which has led to this...
In all seriousness, here's hoping he makes a speedy and full recovery. Here's also hoping that his replacement, presumably Billy Winn, is less adept at stopping the run.