The Cleveland Browns went through training camp and the entire preseason looking for someone to step up and claim the starting spot at right guard.
Heading into Sunday’s season opener against the Tennessee Titans, it looks like Eric Kush has grabbed ahold of the position - at least for the moment.
In the wake of the Browns making a trade for offensive lineman Wyat Teller - who was on the verge of being released by the Buffalo Bills - and Justin McCray - who was in a similar situation with the Green Bay Packers - head coach Freddie Kitchens said on Monday that Kush is the man of the moment, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
“We’ve got three guys, even four guys at that spot that could play for us. We’re going to go through the week and decide at the end of the week but right now Kush is our starter and I expect him to be starting on Sunday. You have to continue to develop guys in your system and that’s what we’re going to do.”
It is really not a big surprise that the Browns will stay with Kush, but given the speculation over the past few days that Teller or McCray would be able to walk in and take over the starting position it makes sense that Kitchens would reiterate the obvious.
Kush may not be the answer, but he at least has been working extensively with the first-team offense and has a better understanding of the blocking schemes, which gives him a clear edge over Teller for the moment.
As for McCray, while many are looking at him as being in the mix at right guard, it is possible the Browns may have other plans for him.
Pro Football Focus selected McCray for it team of the week after the first week of preseason games this year, but it was for his play at center that he earned the nod:
McCray’s primary competition for this spot was actually his teammate Lucas Patrick. Patrick played all 29 of his snaps at center, while McCray split time between there and left guard and was ultimately more impressive. From 11 pass-blocking snaps, McCray didn’t allow a sack, hit or hurry, and he produced a PFF run-blocking grade of 78.3.
It could be that the Browns are still unimpressed with Austin Corbett as a backup option at center to J.C. Tretter, so they brought in the versatile McCray as an insurance policy in case Tretter goes down with an injury.