BEREA, Ohio — For a long time, Browns fans have wanted the team to address the offensive line through the draft.
Tom Heckert has done so in his three years as GM with the drafting of Shawn Lauvao, Todd Pinkston, Mitchell Schwartz and Ryan Miller in that time span. Prior to Heckert’s arrival, Phil Savage used the third pick overall in 2007 to select left tackle Joe Thomas. Eric Mangini used a first-round pick to take center Alex Mack in 2009.
In summary, the Browns this year, are expecting to start two players selected in the first-round, one each from the second-, third- and fifth-rounds—all drafted by the Browns. If the personnel evaluators were right on those players, the Browns could have a good line for a long time.
Last week, against the Eagles, the line looked anything but good or cohesive as the Eagles sacked Browns quarterbacks five times.
The good news is was the preseason.
The bad news is the Browns play the Eagles in the first regular season game on Sept.9. The Eagles led the NFL with 50 sacks last season.
“I think we’re going to be ready for Week 1,” Pinkston said after practice Tuesday. “So we’re not going to buy into everyone’s, ‘Oh, no, here we go.’ That’s not a concern in our room at all.
“As a group we didn’t do our best, but some of the outside people they don’t really know what’s going on the offense,” Pinkston said. “They don’t know what plays are called or what protection’s supposed to happen or what goes on in a certain play.
“We know what’s going on in the building, so we don’t worry about what they say on the outside.”
Thomas said the Browns will be able to game plan and correct the mistakes they made.
“We’re going to have the benefit of game-planning and custom-tailoring our offense to how we want to attack their defense,” Thomas said. “I expect a much better performance.”
“The things that were out there were more our fault than some of the things they did to us,” Pinkston said.
Pat Shurmur thinks the line will be ready when the season starts.
“I’m very confident our offensive line will be one of the strengths of our team,” Shurmur said. “(I’m) very confident.”
Thomas knows that as the offensive line goes, so goes the offense.
“Generally, speaking, as the offensive line goes, the offense goes,” Thomas said. “We’re kind of the tone setters. I think we have a really solid offensive line all across the group.”
The key for most lines is being cohesive and Pinkston feels the line is getting there.
“I have pretty good chemistry with Joe and Alex now,” he said. “Last year, I was just thrown in there. I was trying to learn how they block things and how they operate, and now I know and it feels good. Mitchell he jumped right in and now we’re all gelling together.”
Schwartz, who gave up a sack and has been learning on the job how to pass block, is slated to make his first NFL start against the Eagles. He says he’s not intimidated and feels he’ll be ready.
“Granted, they’re good players, but I think a lot of breakdown stuff was on our side of the ball,” Schwartz said. “Not using the right footwork, not taking the right set, not doing the right thing, but it is all stuff that’s correctable for us.
“Obviously, you never want to get the quarterback hit,” he said. “But when it’s something you can control, it’s something you can clean up and prevent in the future. I don’t think we were overmatched or anything like that.”
Pinkston said the line is looking forward to starting the regular season.
“We’re seeing them again here in two weeks,” Pinkston said. “That was probably one of the more basic game plans than we had and then they showed us a little different stuff. We learned a lot from it. We learned some stuff that we might see here in two weeks.”
McCoy to Start: Shurmur said that QB Brandon Weeden will not play against the Bears in the final preseason game. He said QB Colt McCoy will start for Weeden.
“(Weeden’s) not going to play,” Shurmur said. “The other three (quarterbacks) will play. Colt will start.”
Shurmur said not too many starters will play.
“For the most part, guys who’ve been lining up with the ones will not play,” Shurmur said. “There are a lot of things that go into (the decision), injury and whether guys need to show more.”
McCoy, QB Seneca Wallace and QB Thaddeus Lewis took most of all the reps at practice Tuesday.
Shurmur said he feels Weeden is ready for the regular season.
“He’s very prepared,” Shurmur said. “He’s had an outstanding camp and has improved every day.”
Fujita Back: LB Scott Fujita was back at practice after missing time since the Lions game with a knee injury. Also DL Brian Schaefering and DB David Sims returned to practice. Schaefering had missed the past two practices, while Sims missed one day.
Cameron Out: TE Jordan Cameron was on the stationary bike not practicing Tuesday with an undisclosed injury. He missed time with a lower back injury suffered against the Lions. RB Trent Richardson (knee), OL Oniel Cousins (foot) and RB Chris Ogbonnaya (ankle) did not practice. Not practicing, but on the stationary bikes were DB Dimitri Patterson (ankle), DL Phil Taylor (pectoral), TE Ben Watson (undisclosed), DB Ray Ventrone (hamstring), Cameron (undisclosed) and DL Scott Paxson (knee).
Roster Decisions: Shurmur said there are roster decisions that will be made from the Bears game.
“There are a handful of decisions that we have to make,” he said. “Some of those will determine how guys play in the game.”
All NFL teams must be down to a 53 man roster by Friday night. Eight players can be added to the practice squad. Currently the Browns have 75 players on the roster.
New Guy: The Browns claimed DL Ernest Owusu on Monday and Shurmur said you can never have enough depth at defensive line.
“We brought in a guy that we felt good about,” he said. “He will help with depth.”
Owusu is wearing No. 42 and is expected to play against the Bears. He was an undrafted free agent from the Vikings.