The Cleveland Browns have been full of surprises during the preseason, and the one of the biggest may be looming on the horizon.
After spending all of training camp and the preseason working to solidify the left side of the offensive line, head coach Hue Jackson said the team is still looking at all its options, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
“I still think that everything is a little bit fluid over there, especially on the left side as we continue to move forward. I just want to make sure that we are not turning in the lineup cards today or to say who is starting or anything like that. I just want to make sure that it is a decision, when it is all said and done, that I am good with it all and that I am not going to change two days from now or three days from now.”
While it is a bit disconcerting that the left side of the line is not established with the regular season just a week away, it is good to know that Jackson will stick to whatever decision he makes. Because Browns fans know that Jackson never changes his mind.
Let’s review how the Browns have reached this stage:
- Starting left tackle Joe Thomas, who missed the final nine games of the 2017 season with an injury, retired in March.
- The Browns selected Austin Corbett with the first pick of the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Corbett played four years at Nevada as a left tackle.
- The Browns open training camp with Shon Coleman as the starting left tackle, but that plan quickly goes south.
- At the end of July, offensive line coach Bob Wylie says the idea of moving starting left guard Joel Bitonio to left tackle is “Plan Z.”
- A few days later, Jackson moves Bitonio to left tackle, a position he has not played since college, and installs Corbett at left guard, a position he never played.
- Corbett played the entire preseason at guard.
- While Bitonio worked with the first team, the Browns also worked in other players at left tackle, including undrafted free agent Desmond Harrison.
- On Friday, the Browns traded Coleman to the San Francisco 49ers for a seventh-round draft pick.
Which brings us to today, with Jackson considering moving Bitonio back to left guard; moving Corbett to center, a position he has not played and is currently manned quite competently by J.C. Tretter; and toying with the idea of naming Harrison the starting left tackle.
It is all part of the master plan, as Jackson explained via clevelandbrowns.com:
“I want to look at everything and make sure the best five guys out there based on all of the information from preseason games, practices and what I think is best for our football team. I am just evaluating it all. I know we have seen Joel at left tackle and he has played it, and Corbett at left guard and Harrison at left tackle. When it is all said and done, my job is that we put the best five guys out there, and that is what we are going to do.”
The only thing that is safe to say at the moment is that the Browns are positive they will have five offensive linemen on the field when they open the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 9.
Just who those five players will be remains a bit of a mystery.