As he stood in front of his locker in obvious pain, Browns rookie quarterback Cody Kessler still isn’t sure what hit him.
Just for reference, it was Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
Kessler was planted by Hightower, who came free right up the gut untouched, as he tried to get rid of the football in the end zone with 1:20 left in the first quarter. Kessler fumbled and New England got a safety to extend to a 16-7 lead.
“There is nothing broken,” Browns head coach Hue Jackson said. “It will be day to day. It is a chest/rib situation, and obviously, we will find out more tomorrow.”
Kessler worried that he was about to suffer the same fate as Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown as he lay on the ground. Griffin is on injured reserve, McCown sidelined – both with broken bones in their shoulders.
“That is what scared me,” Kessler said. “When I landed, I heard something weird and I thought it was my shoulder at first so I didn’t want to move, but luckily, it is not my shoulder.”
Kessler will undergo further evaluation Sunday evening and additional medical testing Monday morning but it is unclear if an MRI will be involved.
Jackson took responsibility for the play that led to Kessler’s injury and the safety with Hightower rushing in unblocked and untouched.
“It is not on the players. It is on me,” Jackson said.
“I would not have called it. That is it. Don’t call the play. They had the right defense on at the right time. They won that battle.”
Kessler completed 5 of 8 passes for 62 yards including an 11-yard touchdown to Andrew Hawkins that tied the game at 7 before the Patriots took control of the game which frustrated the rookie even more than the actual injury.
“It was hurting, and I hate it because very few games I have ever come out of, and I was trying really hard, really hard because I hate leaving those guys like that,” Kessler said. “I was telling [head athletic trainer] Joe [Sheehan] our trainer it hurts, but it hurts me more as a person to come out and then not be able to go back in.”
Backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst sustained a knee injury late in the fourth quarter. He also underwent post game x-rays and said that he thinks he’ll be fine.
“I just landed on it. It went kind of straight,” Whitehurst said. “I hyper-extended it, and I was hoping it wasn’t too serious.”
Kessler refused to blame bad luck on yet another round of injuries.
“No, I think it is football,” Kessler said. “It is a violent game and injuries happen, and you can’t control that. That play, they just ran a good job on defense. They had a great call and it is just an unfortunate situation.”