BEREA, Ohio -- The Browns were hoping that the two tackle positions on the offensive line were set for a long time.
Joe Thomas has been to the Pro Bowl in each of his first six seasons and the previous Browns regime signed him to a long-term contract last year. The previous front office also used a high draft choice (second-round, 37th overall) in 2012 to draft Mitchell Schwartz to be the answer to the problems at right tackle for a long time.
Last week, Thomas played in his 100th straight-game. He continues to receive the praise of his coaches, including offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
"I don't know how you can play any better than Joe has the last two weeks," Turner said in reference to Thomas' play against the Vikings and Bengals.
Regarding Schwartz, it has been reported that the current Browns braintrust might not be as high on Schwartz as the previous front office was.
However, if Schwartz continues to play like he has in the past couple of weeks, they might look at things differently.
Schwartz struggled early this season, but Turner said Schwartz has been coming on strong.
"The right side of the line played their best game of the season against Cincinnati and Mitchell had his best game by far," Turner said.
Turner was asked what was the difference from earlier in the season.
"I think every guy is different and I think there are things that are different in what we're doing," he said. "The last two weeks, Mitchell is just more comfortable with what we're doing."
Schwartz, like Thomas has started and played every snap in all 20 games thus far in his NFL career.
Schwartz said he aspires to be the type of player that Thomas is.
"My job is to block the guy and I don't want to be a guy that needs chip-help on every third down," Schwartz said. "That wouldn't mean that I'm a productive player if we had to take a guy out of his job to have to do that every single time.
"The goal is to be able to block my (guy) every single time," he said. "A guy like Joe Thomas is obviously able to do that every single time and be consistent with everything you're doing. That's where I want to be."
Schwartz struggled early as a rookie in 2012, but then finished the season as one of the best at his position as he was recognized by Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writer's Association on their All-Rookie Team.
Schwartz also feels he's started to play up to his capabilities.
"That was probably my best game of the year," Schwartz said referring to his play against the Bengals. "But it isn't saying much, considering how I started (the season)."
Schwartz said he just keeps working and working each week to get better.
"You just try to make a progression and try to get better every week," he said. "I think the same thing happened last year. I don't know why that is, but hopefully I'll be able to start fast next season."
Schwartz has faced some formidable pass rushers against the Dolphins, Ravens, Vikings and Bengals thus far. However, he might be facing his biggest test to date as he will square off against one of the best in the NFL Thursday with Mario Williams, who is currently ranked third in the NFL with 5.5 sacks.
"You've got to be pretty good with what you are doing, otherwise he can expose you," Schwartz said. "A guy that big, that fast, that strong is going to give you pretty much everything you can handle."
Brian's Test: The Bills intercepted QB Joe Flacco five times last week and Turner knows the challenge for QB Brian Hoyer.
"The challenge is every week there is a new defense, a new scheme," Turner said. "You go from four-man front to 3-4. Buffalo is playing at a high level. From comfort standpoint, Brian's a week better. (Last week), he made good decisions and was not rushing into things. He did a good job without turnovers.
"(Buffalo) was very impressive against Baltimore," he said. "We all know what Flacco can do and to pick him off five times. Off a short week and trying to cram in everything (quickly), Brian is going to have to be really sharp."
Turner is impressed with what Hoyer has done in his first two games.
"Brian has the physical ability to play," he said. "To me, it's very obvious. He brings an energy and an enthusiasm (to the offense)."
Horton Embraces the Challenge: The Bills come to FirstEnergy Stadium with the second-best rushing game in the NFL and he expects a challenge. Even though, RB C.J. Spiller (ankle) and RB Fred Jackson (knee) have been on the injury report he knows they have three good backs, whoever plays.
"There might be three with Tashard Choice," he said. "We know they're injury status but expect them to play. (Buffalo) is the second-leading rushing team. If you take Michael Vick off the field (for the Eagles), they're No 1. It's a challenge to stop these guys. They have different style. I expect them to be 100 percent, but if they don't (play), Choice is good runner."
Horton said that Vick as a quarterback, has over 300 yards rushing, while Bills' QB E.J. Manuel has 77.
Brandon Backup: Turner said that Rob Chudzinski hadn't decided yet on who would be Hoyer's backup against the Bills. He said the staff would talk on Wednesday night and make the decision, but he did say that he was glad he didn't have to make the final decision.
"In the position I'm in now, that's Chud's call," Turner said.
Turner did indicate Weeden had just one practice in the short week, but if he was deemed ready to play, he would be the backup to Hoyer.
Willis Time: Although the Browns appear to be using a running back by committee approach, Turner said he was impressed with the way RB Willis McGahee carried the ball in the drive to help the Browns close out last week's win over the Bengals.
"He got 15 carries and it was nice as an offense to put a drive together that wasn't based on a receiver or a go route," he said. "We put together a good drive. We needed it and finished it off with some physical play and the more we can do it, the better.
"Willis was a lot better in week two and I expect him to continue to get better."
McGahee finished with 46 yards but had 33 on the final drive on six carries.
Jim Brown Day: The Browns will honor Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown at halftime of the Browns nationally televised game with the Bills.
“We are absolutely thrilled to formally honor Jim Brown, the greatest running back in the history of the NFL,” said Owner Jimmy Haslam. “Jim is synonymous with the Cleveland Browns. He has an undeniable place in our history and we look forward to celebrating him appropriately on Oct. 3.”
Brown was not in attendance when he was inducted into the Ring of Honor due to a rift between he and former Browns president Mike Holmgren.
“When Jimmy Haslam invited me to do this, I was flattered,” Brown said. “That night will be about family, about joining together with the city, the region and the greatest fans in all the NFL, in a celebration of the Cleveland Browns. I’m thrilled about the opportunity.”
“We look forward to celebrating Jim Brown this Thursday with football fans in Cleveland and throughout the country,” said CEO Joe Banner. “I’ve always admired Jim. He is not only a cherished member of the Browns, but his contributions to the NFL and its national prevalence are immeasurable.”
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has proclaimed it "Jim Brown Day" in Cleveland.
“You cannot think of the Cleveland Browns or the City of Cleveland without thinking of Jim Brown,” Jackson said. “He brought prominence to the team and to this city. I am honored to join the city, fans and Cleveland Browns in celebrating this football legend.”
Injury Update: LB Jabaal Sheard (knee), DL Billy Winn (calf), LB Quentin Groves (ankle) did not practice Monday and Tuesday. OL Shawn Lauvao (ankle), DL John Hughes (knee) and K Billy Cundiff (quad) practiced, but were limited.