CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns defensive end Olivier Vernon, who left Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday with an ankle injury, was diagnosed with a ruptured Achilles and will undergo surgery to repair it, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski.
Vernon was helped off the field early in the fourth quarter and Stefanski said after the game that he would have an MRI to determine the severity of the injury.
The ruptured Achilles diagnosis was announced Monday afternoon.
Vernon's loss is a huge hit to the Browns defense.
The defensive end has been having a standout season, recording his ninth sack of the season Sunday—the second most of his career and most since his career high of 11.5 in 2013.
Vernon's explosive season came in the second half of it, recording all nine sacks since Week 8. In Week 14, Vernon recorded at least two sacks in three games at that point in the season.
The NFL named Vernon the AFC Defensive Player of the Week in November after the Browns' win over the Philadelphia Eagles. In that contest, Vernon recorded three sacks, a safety, five tackles and a pass defended.
The Browns will count on their other defensive ends—Adrian Clayborn and Porter Gustin—to step up in Vernon's absence on Sunday night as they take on the Steelers in the NFL's Wild Card playoff round.