Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens made it official - at least for the moment - on Saturday.
Eric Kush is going to open the season as the team’s starting right guard.
Kush has spent time with the first-team offensive line through each of the Browns first three preseason games, topping out on Friday by playing all 44 offensive snaps with the starters against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Olivier Vernon making plays on defense, but the Browns also felt the absence of the player traded for him.— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) August 24, 2019
Kevin Zeitler was the No. 1 guard by PFF's pass blocking efficiency metric, now replaced by journeyman Eric Kush pic.twitter.com/ntUwCPsATN
It may not have gone the way everyone expected when training camp opened in July, but for now, Kush is the man, as Kitchens told clevelandbrowns.com:
“I thought he did some things nice yesterday, but he’s got to continue to get better. He’s not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination. Eric will get the first shot of seeing what he can do, and so far, he’s been doing very well. Not good enough yet, but he’ll continue to get better to get there. If we had to play a game today, Eric would be our right guard.”
Seeing as how Kitchens also said that there is “not a chance” that the starters will see playing time in Thursday’s final preseason game, it sounds as if the Browns are ready to open the season with Kush lining up at right guard in Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans.
You will see Kush (RG, No. 72) bury his head and whiff on Suh's swim move. Mayfield luckily able to evade the sack and make a play extending. #Browns pic.twitter.com/J6XvT7yPzQ— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) August 23, 2019
It has been quite a summer for Kush, who signed with the Browns as a free agent in March.
Originally a fifth-round selection by the Kansas City Chiefs, where he spent two seasons, Kush played in 2015 with the St. Louis Rams before joining the Chicago Bears in 2016.
Up to that point Kush had appeared in just 10 games and made three starts, but he would go on to appear in 23 games (11 starts) for the Bears, primarily at left guard but with a little bit of right guard thrown in as well.
Kush missed the 2017 season with a hamstring injury, but was the Bears’ opening day starter at left guard last season. He held that spot for the first six games of the season, but he suffered a neck injury and split time with rookie James Daniels before being benched for the second half of the season.
Kush finished the season with a grade of 56.5 from Pro Football Focus, which ranked him as the 52nd best guard in the league.
And now he will be one of the five men charged with protecting quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Are you comfortable with Eric Kush as the Browns starting right guard?
This poll is closed
Sure - I’m not the one getting buried by a defensive lineman.