What's this? Am I seeing things correctly? Indeed I am.
Not including the players on the injured reserve, as of Thursday, you can say that the Cleveland Browns as a team are in the best shape injury-wise all season. One of the big reasons is that it appears right tackle Tony Pashos will be able to start at right tackle this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. I know I've gotten my hopes up for Pashos every week since the beginning of the season, so it wouldn't be unprecedented for there to be a letdown. Pashos has been practicing with the starters this week though, something that wasn't happening the other weeks.
Do you know what the best thing about Pashos starting would be? Because the pass blocking improves, it's easier to put tight end Evan Moore on the field for some snaps again.
Head coach Pat Shurmur was asked if backup right tackle Artis Hicks could still start if Pashos is healthy this week, but Shurmur made it clear that there is no competition going on there. "No, if Tony is [ready] then he starts," said Shurmur. If Pashos starts, could Hicks suddenly take over for rookie left guard Jason Pinkston, who has had his share of struggles? Shurmur shot that idea down as well. "We won’t disrupt the left guard," said Shurmur. "We’ve got one little area we’re working on and we’ll try to stick with that."
The two other players who have been out all season include backup middle linebacker Titus Brown and rookie reserve safety Eric Hagg. Brown practiced on Wednesday and Thursday for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain in the preseason finale at the end of August. Shurmur seemed weary on Brown's prospects of playing this Sunday though:
"We’re going to have to evaluate him. He did well yesterday. With his ankle though, we’re going to have to see how well he does today because he hasn’t practiced in a while. Remember, when guys are coming back sometimes too much is worse than not enough. We’ll have to see where we’re at with that and see how he does today. We haven’t decided on him, he’s a guy we’ll have to decide on. There’s a solid chance that he won’t play though." [Link to press conference]
Another comment that Shurmur added indicated that Brown would be active on gameday whenever he is healthy. "No question," said Shurmur. "He backs up D’Qwell and he’s a four phase special teams guy."
Nothing was said about Hagg, but according to the practice report, he has been participating in sessions at a limited capacity.
If you had not heard, starting running back Peyton Hillis has said that he's recovered from strep throat and will start against the Titans. He said that he lost 10-12 pounds due to the illness and is working hard to get ready for the game.