DETROIT - AUGUST 12: Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions hits quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals in the second quarter and is called for a roughing the passer penalty during the game at Ford Field on August 12, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
The Cleveland Browns front office and coaching staff has shown a lot of confidence in second-year offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao. The team did not re-sign last year's starting right guard, Floyd Womack, and decided to hand the job to Lauvao instead. Lauvao has responded with a solid training camp and a good effort against the Green Bay Packers in the team's first preseason game. On Friday, he'll face his toughest test when he lines up against Ndamukong Suh on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
Suh lived up to expectations last season with Detroit, and I don't think there is any question that he brings a nastiness that has to strike some fear in opposing quarterbacks. Last year in the preseason, he had no qualms about tossing Jake Delhomme around like he was a rag doll, and he was subsequently fined $7,500 for it.
Last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, Suh broke through a double-team and threw rookie quarterback Andy Dalton to the turf. Today, it was revealed that Suh was fined $20,000 for the play. This will be a good time to evaluate just how stable the right side of the offensive line is this season. Lauvao is expected to play the first half with the starters, and it will be important for him to contain Suh as best as he can so Colt McCoy doesn't end up on his back, or worse, injured. Right now, all McCoy can do is have faith playing with the guys he has:
"In my position, I have to trust these guys in front of me, and I do," McCoy said. "If I'm concentrating on guys rushing and blitzing, then I'm out of the play. I won't be able to see what's going on down field, so I just need to trust those guys."
At least Suh doesn't line up over the left guard. There is a fair chance that starter Eric Steinbach will miss Friday's game and rookie offensive lineman Jason Pinkston will start in his place. That would be a terrible mismatch for a low-round rookie lineman to get his first starting experience against a player of Suh's caliber. Nick Fairley, the other half of the Lions' defensive tackle unit, will miss the game with an injury.