BEREA, Ohio — Browns defensive end Chad Thomas sustained a sprained neck but avoided a more serious injury during a scary moment at training camp.
Thomas was immobilized on the field and taken by ambulance to University Hospitals.
A team spokesman said Thomas, a third-round pick in 2018, was back at the Browns’ facility Monday evening. His return to practice will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
Thomas appeared to absorb a blow to his right shoulder and head area during a play. The 6-foot-5, 280-pounder stood up but then went to the ground, where he was treated by Browns medical personnel.
As his teammates and fans at camp watched somberly, Thomas was put on a backboard and carted away.
“It’s never a moment at any point in time in any sport — or in anything — that’s a sight that anybody wants to see,” wide receiver Jarvis Landry said. “Chad’s in our prayers.”
Thomas appeared in four games for the Browns last season. He’s expected to be in Cleveland’s defensive line rotation this season.
Kitchens said Thomas’ injury was a reminder of football’s physical nature.
“In our game, that’s reality,” he said. “Sometimes that happens during the course of a game and mentally we’ve got to keep moving forward. At the end of the day, this is still practice, so you don’t want to see your teammate laying there.
“But again, the protocol for anything like that is sometimes it looks worse than it is. Not to make any light of it. It’s a serious nature, but Joe (Sheehan, team president of player health and development) and his staff did everything to protocol to make sure there was no damage done after the fact.”
Guard Joel Bitonio said he was encouraged to see Thomas get up after the play.
“We kind of saw him moving around out there, so we were hoping it wasn’t too serious,” Bitonio said. “But anytime they bring the stretch board out and put someone down, it’s great to hear that he’s moving and they’re just doing extra tests now to make sure everything is OK.”
Landry said it’s imperative to not think about the possibility of getting hurt.
“Is it something that we think about all the time? No,” he said. “Obviously we know it happens but we never really want it to happen to ourselves or anybody else, you know? On any play it could be anybody. It’s just the game we play and it happens.”