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Browns enter season paper thin at linebacker

Anyone feel like playing linebacker for the Cleveland Browns?

The team's already depleted defensive unit could now be without rookie James-Michael Johnson for up to four weeks, Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland reported Saturday.

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Johnson suffered an oblique injury in Cleveland's preseason finale against the Chicago Bears on Thursday. The former Nevada defender wasn't expected to start this season, but Scott Fujita's three-game suspension and a season-ending Achilles' injury to Chris Gocong have stripped this group to the floorboards.

The Browns don't have a strongside linebacker behind Fujita and Johnson, and will likely hit the waiver wire hard. Kaluka Maiava is penciled in on the weakside, with D'Qwell Jackson cemented in the middle, but the rest of the names -- L.J. Fort and Craig Robertson -- don't inspire confidence.

Cleveland's early slate of games include the Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens. Last we checked, linebackers are needed against these teams.

UPDATE:Coach Pat Shurmer called Johnson's injury a day-to-day situation, Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reported. The team acknowledged Johnson would miss time, but doubted it would be four weeks.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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