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Browns can Replace Role of Jarvis Landry in the Aggregate

While the Cleveland Browns don't have a direct replacement for Jarvis Landry, who is out at least three games with a sprained MCL, they do have a handful of players that can divide up Landry's role between them.
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With Jarvis Landry out no fewer than three games, the Cleveland Browns could replace his usage with a handful of players, which in the aggregate, could end up more productive. That's easier said than done simply because it could involve up to four players that are taking parts of one player's role, but the potential is there.

The slimmer, sleeker Landry had a more specialized role that, presuming he comes back fully healthy, could be valuable later in the year in games against teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who can be manipulated to cover Landry with a linebacker. More agile and lighter, that becomes a far more difficult task, even with a healthy and confident Devin Bush.

In general, the roles that Landry was playing for the Browns can be divvied up among other players, including Rashard Higgins, Kareem Hunt, Demetric Felton and Austin Hooper.

Landry's strengths have always been as a zone beater. Higgins in the intermediate areas of the field is effective in that role while Austin Hooper has been effective on shorter throws. Higgins has a little more range, so it could prove to be a net positive for the Browns to have him attack a different area of the field than the tight ends.

Generally, between Landry and these tight ends, much of their offensive attack has been horizontal; play-action or utilizing spacing in order to force defenders to cover a wide area of the field and finding the hole. Higgins gives a little more vertical ability which could cause the defense to cover slightly more space.

Higgins is also not afraid to run slants. Landry does a great job of putting his body in between the ball and the defender, but it's something Higgins has shown he can do. He has been impressive catching passes in tight spaces through traffic and carrying over from last year, when the ball hits Higgins hands, he catches it.

Whether it's Hunt or Felton, some of the designed touches for Landry, such as catching a bubble or screen, not unlike the situation where he caught the ball against the Chiefs going forward and leaped over a defender as he headed out of bounds.

Felton and Hunt can catch passes and offer more ability to make defenders miss, creating a significant mismatch in that situation, which could produce more explosive plays. It's a similar situation when it comes to the jet sweep Landry scored against the Chiefs. Landry's run was fantastic, able to fight his way into the end zone on a fourth-and-1 play. But if it's a choice between Hunt with the ball in his hands there or Felton potentially going wider, they simply offer a higher level of athletic ability and size in the case of Hunt.

Felton got to show off his ability to operate in space. On just two plays, he had 51 yards, made three tacklers miss and scored a touchdown. Hunt has been utilized in space to great effect in certain games. The Browns can easily put Hunt and Nick Chubb on the field at the same time and then either motion Hunt outside or simply line him up out wide and force the defender to make the play.

The one aspect of Landry's game the Browns will not be able to replace is his ability to pass. The Browns have utilized double passes with Landry, which have been effective including a touchdown to Odell Beckham against the Dallas Cowboys. They will have to wait for Landry to come back before they go back to that.

In general, David Njoku should see an increased share of the offense and Harrison Bryant could be a factor in getting some of the receptions Landry would normally receive as he attacks similar areas of the field. Many hands could make light work during Landry's absence, which could then enable him to heal completely, so he isn't compromised when they would want to utilize him the most at the end of the year and potentially in the playoffs.

READ MORE: With Landry Out, Young Receivers Must Take Advantage of Opportunity