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Browns roster: Nick Harris shows his strengths against the Jaguars - Film Don’t Lie

Nick Harris stepped in admirably for the injured Ethan Pocic on Sunday.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns had a productive day on offense against a stout Jacksonville Jaguars team on Sunday despite being without their starting center for most of the game.

Though losing Ethan Pocic was a big loss for the team, Nick Harris was able to step in immediately without the offense having to skip a beat. He has mostly been used as a fullback throughout the 2023 season but was originally slated to start at center for the team last year before he suffered a knee injury that derailed his entire 2022 campaign.

One of his more impressive aspects on Sunday was his overall ability to make accurate pre-snap line calls, despite this being the first time that he has had to play center for an extended period. This speaks to the consistent amount of preparation and practice that he gets during the week at both center and fullback.

He did a great job in pass protection on Sunday, consistently giving Joe Flacco and Cleveland’s passing game adequate time to operate at a high level. The severity of Ethan Pocic’s injury has yet to be announced but if it’s going to cause him to be out for an extended period of time, the team will be in good hands with Harris at center.

Pocic is undoubtedly a better run blocker, especially in the power game but Harris is much more athletic and mobile overall. Similar to his pass protection ability, the Browns' offense shouldn’t miss a beat on run plays that require continuous movement from the offensive line such as inside/outside zone, or plays that require interior pulling or trapping.

Though Pocic may not miss the Bears game, Cleveland can easily adjust their scheme to take advantage of Harris’ strengths this weekend. Rather than having the guards pull, Kevin Stefanski could have Harris pulling more often in the power game. This would not only help negate some of his head-up power blocking issues, but it would also allow Stefanski to take advantage of Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller’s ability to gap-down on and drive defenders off the ball. Instead of staying with his normal G/Y (Guard/Tight End) or G/T (Guard/Tackle) Counter or Pin/Pull schemes, he could run C/Y (Center/Tight End) or C/T (Center/Tackle) blocking variations going forward.

Despite Harris’ lack of effectiveness in terms of being able to drive defenders off the ball, he does show the ability to “stand up” bigger defensive linemen and stop penetration by getting into stalemates at the line of scrimmage. Here’s a great example of this:

Though Ethan Pocic only suffered a stinger on Sunday, which usually doesn’t result in being out of commission for more than 3 or 4 days, it’s safe to say that the team can “afford” to allow him to take a week off without much hesitation. The team has a fairly high level of confidence with Nick Harris in the lineup.


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