BEREA, Ohio — As if the winless Browns don’t have enough troubles, they’ll play the rest of the season without starting linebacker Jamie Collins.
One of Cleveland’s best defensive players, Collins sustained a torn medical collateral ligament in Sunday’s loss to Detroit and will be sidelined until 2018. Collins was injured while returning an interception during the first quarter and didn’t come back.
The loss of Collins is another staggering setback to the Browns (0-9), who have had their share of bad luck while falling to 1-24 in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson.
“That’s a big blow to our defensive football team because he’s one of our best players and one of our leaders and one of our real good locker-room guys,” Jackson said Monday. “We’ll miss him, but that’s football. It happens. And he’ll grow and get back as soon as he can and be stronger and better for it.”
Collins’ injury is especially cruel because it came on the type of game-changing play the Browns have been counting on from him. He picked off a pass by Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford in the first quarter, but had his knee twisted when he was tackled by offensive lineman Graham Glasgow.
Collins, who missed three games earlier this season with a concussion, signed a four-year, $50 million contract during the offseason with Cleveland. The Browns acquired him last year in a trade from New England, where he was a Pro Bowler and won a Super Bowl.
In six games this season, Collins recorded 31 tackles, a sack, forced a fumble and had the interception.
“He’s a big-time player,” said Jackson. “When he got hurt, he was making a pick. He was on the cusp of making those kinds of plays regularly.”
Injuries to top overall pick Myles Garrett and some of the Browns’ defensive backs have prevented the team from being at full speed for much of the season.
The Browns are already missing Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, who suffered a season-ending triceps injury and underwent surgery.
Jackson said James Burgess will replace Collins in the starting lineup.