BEREA, Ohio — For all the hand wringing regarding the right side of the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line, the fellas who play those positions don’t share the same concerns.
In fact, Browns second-year center Alex Mack was succinct when asked if there are concerns.
“No,” he said.
After a pause, Mack continued, “As a whole o-line we want to play well. We’re not pointing fingers or saying you need to fix this or why are you doing that. We’re good at working together. It’s all or none.”
Last Saturday, the latest lineup on the Browns right side was rookie Shawn Lauavo at guard and offseason acquisition Tony Pashos at tackle. Both players missed the Aug. 21 game against the Rams. Lauavo played in the preseason opener against Green Bay with John St. Clair at right tackle. Meanwhile, it was the first game action for Pashos who has battled food poising and a shoulder injury during training camp.
“There are constantly things I’m working on and I’m not content with anything at all,” Pashos said. “It’s always a learning experience in camp. I wish we came away with a win, that would have been nice.”
Pashos is an eight-year veteran who signed with Cleveland on March 7 as a free agent. He has been impressed with the rookie to his left.
“He’s a beast,” Pashos said. “I don’t care if he’s 50 or 20, if the guy is an animal he is an animal.”
On Monday, Browns coach Eric Mangini was asked if Pashos and Lauvao would see more time in Thursday’s preseason finale because of the amount time already missed. Typically, first-team players like Pashos and Lauavo only play one series in the final preseason, but coach Eric Mangini said it is possible those two will play more against Chicago.
Last Saturday the Browns faced a talented defensive line, as the Lions feature the No. 2 overall pick Ndamukong Suh (DT), Corey Williams (DT), Kyle Vanden Bosch (DE) and Cliff Avril (DE). The Browns offensive line allowed only one quarterback hurry, three pass deflections and no sacks.
“They played well,” Mangini said. “There were a few hiccups but that was a nice first game for them to play together. Detroit had quite a few line stunts and they had nice speed, but they played well being the first time they played together.”
Mack agreed with his coach’s assessment.
“I’m really impressed with both of them. We’re starting at a good point but there a lot of things we can improve on.”
Sorensen Update: It turns out Browns defensive back and special team maven Nick Sorensen suffered a concussion last Saturday. It looked much worse.
Seven minutes into the second quarter of last Saturday’s game against Detroit, Cleveland was riding high following a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jake Delhomme to Lawrence Vickers that extended the Browns lead to 17-7. On the ensuring kickoff, Sorensen was doing what he does best — covering kicks — when he was confronted by two Lions’ blockers. Sorensen instantly went to the ground and once the play was whistled dead, Browns players feverishly motioned to team trainers attention was needed.
Sorensen was not at the Browns complex in Berea on Monday and will not play Thursday.
“He’s going to be resting for a while,” Mangini said. “All the tests were negative after the game and he’ll be out however many days they tell us to make sure things are OK.”
Sorensen is in his 10th season in the NFL and fourth with the Browns where he has established himself on special teams. Last season, the 6-foot-3, 210 defensive back played in all 16 games and finished second with 13 special teams tackles. In Sorensen’s first full season with the Browns in 2008, he was third on the team with 11 special teams tackles.
“There’s always going to be guys like that who are core special teams players,” Mangini said. “He has found a niche that he does really well. In addition to that, he’s versatile on special teams and plays all of them. He’s also a good person and good teammate.”
Cut Down Coming: By 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31, the Browns will need to reduce their roster to 75 players. The final roster cut to 53 players is Sept. 4. One position group of interest is running back where five players currently reside.
“Those are going to be some tough decisions,” coach Eric Mangini said. “At running back, Chris Jennings did some things last year and a guy like (Alex) Smith has done some good things at tight end. It’ll depend on how many tight ends you keep. (Peyton) Hillis is either a fullback or a running back and Montario (Hardesty) is back this week and should play against Chicago. All those things come into play and those are tough decisions.
“I’m happy with the potential of (the running backs).”
Hardesty missed the entire training camp with a bone bruise in his right knee. He returned to practice late last week. Hardesty is expected to see his first NFL reps Thursday.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Hardesty said. “We have talent in our backfield and I feel like the competition makes everybody better. I look forward to getting out on the field and competing.”
Hardesty, a second-round draft pick out of Tennessee, is the youngest of the Browns five running backs along with James Davis, Jerome Harrison, Peyton Hillis and Chris Jennings. In the preseason, Harrison has a team-high 23 carries for 72 yards while Hillis has 21 carries for a team-high 80 yards.
Last season, Jennings appeared in nine games, starting once, as he rushed for 220 yards and a touchdown on 63 carries. Davis played in only two games and rushed nine times for 15 yards before being placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
Pass Happy: In three preseason games, opponents’ first-team quarterbacks — Aaron Rogers, A.J. Feeley and Matthew Stafford — are a combined 30-for-36 passing for 345 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
“We’re not executing as well as we should,” Mangini said. “I think we are in the right defense and we’re further ahead in terms of running the correct defense. We’re not disguising it.”
Injury Update: Tight end Robert Royal (right foot) did not practice Monday while tight end Ben Watson and offensive lineman John St. Clair were excused for personal reasons.