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Browns OL coach Bob Wylie: the right tackle competition, Joe Thomas’ legacy, and his line’s health

The long-time NFL offensive line coach is in his first year with the Browns.

Prior to Day 4 of Cleveland Browns training camp on Sunday, the team made offensive line coach Bob Wylie and defensive line coach Clyde Simmons available to the media. Each coach has plenty of NFL experience, but are in their first years with the Browns.

Both coaches also have the benefit of an infusion of talent on their unit this offseason -- Kevin Zeitler and J.C. Tretter for Wylie, and Myles Garrett and a pair of other rookies for Simmons. Below is a recap of some of the things that Wylie had to say on Sunday, and then you can read the Simmons recap here.

Bob Wylie

  • Everyone wants to know what the latest is on the right tackle competition. We probably won’t get a gauge until some of the preseason games, but besides acknowledging that it’s between Shon Coleman and Cam Erving, at this point in time, Wylie says he has no idea who will start:

“It is going well. It is a good competition. It is fun to watch them (OLs Shon Coleman and Cam Erving). It is fun to watch them compete, especially in the room. They are competing in the room, as well as they compete on the field. That is a fun thing as a coach to watch those guys compete for that spot. Who is going to be the guy? I don’t know. I have no idea.”

  • Regarding where Erving has improved, Wylie said:

“He gained weight, he got stronger, and he’s putting more time in the books, and in the film, which is good. He’s taking the small steps and I told him, ‘Look, what happened before, you’ve got to learn how to flush that.’ You can’t change the past. The only thing you can control is what’s happening right now in camp. You have to start from here and go forward.”

  • A reporter asked if Wylie could give an example of when he says that Erving and Coleman are competing in the classroom.

“Cam, on this dual, what are you looking at? And he'll tell me. And then I'll go, 'Shon -- explain to me this protection and what it should look like.' And one is going to try to out-do the other to show how much they know about that question. That’s competing with one another.”

  • When it comes to LT Joe Thomas and his practice time, Wylie says that the 10-year veteran doesn’t need any practice time, especially because he already has communication experience with LG Joel Bitonio. “They should give him the yellow jacket now,” Wylie said with laughter.
  • Several players are coming back from injury on the offensive line, including LG Joel Bitonio, OG John Greco, and C Austin Reiter. Wylie says they are bringing them back slowly — i.e. they “won’t be practicing 100 plays a day.” We have seen them take part in team drills already, though, which is a step ahead of where many of us thought they’d be. Wylie says that as a coach, you completely trust whatever the trainer says to do.

“As a coach, whatever the trainer says to do, we do. I don’t say, ‘Hey, don’t listen to him, get in there.’ I was on staffs where a couple of coaches did that, and the next thing you know, you have a million lawyers and you have the media and you have everybody else saying, ‘Hey, they shouldn’t have done that.’ (The trainer) says he is not playing, he is not playing.”

  • When an offensive line gels, Wylie points out the importance of chemistry in the meeting room, because that is more important than the Xs and Os, which would naturally fall into place if that chemistry exists. As far as being a successful run blocker, Wylie had a lot to say about that:

“Being physical. Good feet. Your center, your core, OK, your core and your footwork. You need to be able to recover and have good feet. It is the first thing, right? You look at somebody, when I am looking at the film and I say, ‘Hey, draft this guy,’ the first thing I look at is ‘can he recover?’ If he can’t recover, I kind of stop right there because what is the sense in taking the guy if he can’t recover and block somebody, right?

Now, how are his feet moving? Can he recover and his feet are moving, he can stay on the guy. Now, if we can get those two parts together, then we just keep progressing from there. I like the tough guys, the physical guys and the smart guys, that all fits into it. Do you always get all those guys? No, you get guys that can block the guy.

Like I had some guys at Tampa (Bay Buccaneers) that could block their guy and they weren’t really physical guys, but they blocked their guys. Their guys don’t make the play. I like the physical guys that put you to the ground and you get nasty with them and they love to get dirty and that stuff like that. Those are the kind of guys that my lines kind of resemble those guys. At the end of the day guys, it is did your guy make the play or not?”