Joel Bitonio’s switch to left tackle before the Cleveland Browns preseason opener against the New York Giants is off to a good start.
He has been holding up generally well in his first action as an NFL left tackle.
Although it’s going to take some time for Bitonio to fully grasp all of the nuance involved with the position, and those kinds of lessons will be best learned in game situations, it isn’t impossible to believe he can successfully make the switch. Playing on the outside is not close to the same as the interior positions, but Bitonio is no stranger to the role after playing there in college.
Browns second-year pass rusher Myles Garrett is positive about the move and believes Bitonio is a great fit.
“I think he fits out there,” Garrett said following the team’s Friday intra-squad scrimmage. “I do not think that the change has made him any less of a great player.
“I think he can go out there and handle any of the top rushers.”
Garrett also added that he’s going to do everything he can to help Bitonio get ready for the task of facing those elite rushers.
“I know he is going to be facing some quality rushers, and I know some of the best are coming pretty soon in the season,” Garret said. “I know I am going to give him everything I have because if I do, I know he will be able to handle them.”
And if you ask Garrett, he views himself as one of them.
“I do not think there is much of a difference between me and guys that are at the very top.”
By all accounts, Garrett is in great shape, healthy, and is ready to realize his elite potential. After all, as the saying goes: “iron sharpens iron.”
If Garrett realizes his potential, works as hard as he can to push Bitonio, and Bitonio continues grinding and holding serve, then it’s possible this transition can succeed sooner than later.
And it won’t be soon enough for a team looking to rise out of the AFC North basement, all while replacing one of the arguable best left tackles in NFL history.