If Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit have an extra hop in their step at Cleveland Browns offseason training activities, it's difficult to blame them after what they have endured the past year. Each missed the 2020 season with significant injuries with uncertainty for both of their futures, so the joy they've shown early in OTA's has provided additional enthusiasm for a team that has plenty of reason to be excited for the 2021 season.
This wasn't a a situation where it was simply a matter of time for them to heal, like suffering a broken bone or a high ankle sprain with rest or routine treatment addressing the issue. There was also uncertainty and any number of sources of doubt in terms of being able to come back the same player they were, if they were able to come back at all as it relates to Williams.
Williams suffered a nerve injury to his shoulder, something that carried over from his time at LSU, but didn't truly manifest until an injury that he initially thought was a stinger happened in a tackling drill. Initially listed day to day, which became a month before the team placed him on the injured list with the hope he might come back later in the year but was shut own for the season.
Williams was as frustrated as he was powerless to do anything about it. He tried to lobby to get himself activated to help in the playoffs, but the Browns refused, which may have been the best decision for him.
The team did not have any answers initially and fans were telling him via social media that he was not on the field because he didn't want to actually play, that was he letting down the team, among other things. It weighed on him heavily. He opened up about those struggles in an interview with Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com.
Looking ahead to the 2021 season, there were nothing but questions about his status for the 2021 season. Fortunately for Williams, his nerves were able to heal and his shoulder has since been cleared. OTA's are the first time Williams has had a Browns helmet on and practicing at full health in almost a year when there were at least questions if that was going to be possible.
Delpit suffered a ruptured Achilles' near the end of August. A far easier injury to explain and understand than the nerve damage Williams suffered, there was plenty of uncertainty.
It's not all that long ago that suffering this type of injury would be potentially career-ending. And it still has the potential to be career altering, but as medical science improves, the Achilles' can return to 100 percent health. It's not a given, but it's possible.
It has to be reassuring for Delpit to see Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets look as good as he ever has while playing in the NBA playoffs. Durant suffered the injury in June of 2019.
Delpit is only closing in on 10 months since he suffered the injury and the Browns are being cautious with him, but he's excited enough that he can barely stand still at OTA's. Delpit is in a bucket hat while everyone else is in a helmet, but he's been seen running around and trying to do some light drill work.
The team may be deliberately trying to slow him down, so he doesn't overdo it and risk a setback.
At the end of May, Delpit was asked about his recovery process in his media availability.
“It feels good. Better every day. It is a long process, a long journey to get fully back healthy, but the plan is to be fully healthy by training camp. I am on track for that.”
Hopefully that means exactly what he says; that he's going to be fully healthy by training camp. It's not clear if fully healthy means back to where he was pre-injury. He may not be for several more months, but that isn't dampening his spirits.
The Browns have two young players that were unable to play a single snap last year along with the additions to the secondary they made in the offseason including John Johnson III, Troy Hill and Greg Newsome. Denzel Ward and Ronnie Harrison are the only two players that had a major impact in 2020 the secondary last year that will be back in 2021.
The Browns also have two players that have worked hard and are extremely grateful and excited just to have another opportunity to resume their careers. Those injuries were devastating for both of them, especially because so much of the work to recover is on the chance they come back 100 percent. Williams explained how it contributed to falling into depression.
The two relied on each other in part to get through their recovery. Having the pre-existing relationship, both having played at LSU provided an added value in this journey. The result is not only being excited about their own recoveries and being able to return to playing football, hopefully able to contribute to a team that has championship aspirations.
Each is also excited for the recovery of the other and seeing how much they have struggled to get back to this point. Injuries can be extremely isolating for players in any sport. The team must continue their season while everything basically stops for the player who suffered the injury. It can lead to feelings of resentment, loneliness and depression.
Having another teammate with them who they know well in addition to a support system can be invaluable. They have someone who understands the challenges and frustrations they are dealing with, going through it themselves. The pain, the work, the struggles along the way and the range of emotions that go hand in hand with the entire process.
It remains to be seen just what Williams and Delpit can contribute to the Browns this year, but the team has good reason to be excited about both of them and what they can add to this overhauled secondary, but they as everyone waits for the season to begin, relishing in the joy from these two players can be a reminder of just how special it is to get to play in the NFL as well as for the Browns in the Kevin Stefanski era.