If there is one position that could see a major shakeup for the Cleveland Browns heading into Week 1 it is along the offensive line. Numerous reports are indicating that veteran offensive lineman Artis Hicks could replace rookie Jason Pinkston as the starting left guard against the Bengals.
The source of some of those rumors came from head coach Pat Shurmur not committing 100 percent to Pinkston as his starter Monday afternoon. "Right now we have Jason Pinkston in there, but we’ll see," stated Shurmur. "There’s a little bit of work left to do as we get ready to play and we’re really not saying right now who the starters are."
Hicks told the media that he was not told by the coaching staff that they intend to start him, and he understands that he is just here to contribute in any way possible. It might be tough to start Hicks right away too because he is not up to speed with the playbook. He said hearing the plays called during his first day of practice sounded like a foreign language to him, but that he'd start picking things up better over the next couple of days. Pinkston almost sounded like he was conceding to a position loss though when he said, "It's a business. They're going to put the more experienced guy in there if they need to. We're all here trying to win, we're one team. I'd be disappointed not playing, but I understand it for the team."
In addition, Hicks' agent published the following on Facebook (hat tip to Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository): "Our clients Joe Thomas and Artis Hicks now hold down the left side of the offensive line for the Cleveland Browns."
The other concern on the offensive line? Starting right tackle Tony Pashos, who has only been healthy enough to play in 11 games over the past two seasons. Pashos missed practice on Monday and was wearing a boot, having what Shurmur deemed as a sore foot: "He’s got a sore foot and it’s his other foot so we’re just letting it settle down, which is not uncommon," said Shurmur. " Those boots are magical sometimes. I wouldn’t read into that yet, but he’s just got a sore foot that’s settling down."
Let's hope his sore foot settles down fast. The alternative to start at right guard could be just about anybody, including John Greco, Oniel Cousins, or maybe even Pinkston.
Also missing from practice Monday was tight end Benjamin Watson with a hip injury. Shurmur stated that Watson should be practicing again on Wednesday.