Mack sees consistency, potential from line

Posted Jan 8, 2013

Browns center Alex Mack saw consistency from one side of the line and potential on the other.

Fourth-year Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Alex Mack was a center on a line that was bookended by a perennial Pro Bowler in left tackle Joe Thomas and a potential mainstay at right tackle in Mitchell Schwartz during the 2012 season.

Behind Mack, Thomas, Schwartz, and guards Shawn Lauvao and John Greco, the Browns rushed for 1,593 yards and 12 touchdowns on 396 carries. The quarterbacks were sacked 36 times, an average of just over two times per game.

“I think the offensive line, as a whole, did a pretty good job,” Mack said. “We had some injuries. People did a great job stepping up and filling in those spots. We had pretty good protection, and I think we ran the ball pretty well. Hopefully, we can be a little more consistent and have a better year next year.”

Mack was one of four offensive linemen to start all 16 games for the Browns this year. Thomas, Schwartz and Lauvao also dressed for each of the Browns’ games. Schwartz started all 16 games at right tackle after the Browns went through three right tackles (Tony Pashos, Artis Hicks, and Oniel Cousins) in 2011.

“Mitch did a great job in his rookie season,” said Mack. “He stepped up early in the year, won the starting role and throughout the year, was a very consistent player. That’s what you want with a tackle. You want him to be the same player every day. Mitch is the same guy and he’s smart. He gets the job done really well.”

In addition to watching Schwartz develop his skills at right tackle, Mack once again saw why Thomas has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first six NFL seasons.

“Joe Thomas, what a great player,” Mack said. “He made the Pro Bowl again, and it’s great to have him on the team. He’s something that all of us on the O-line can strive for. You see how he prepares and how he works and the level of play it takes to be at the Pro Bowl every year. He deserves it and you can see why when you watch film.”

Along with Thomas and Schwartz, Mack had a chance to block for rookie running back Trent Richardson and first-year quarterback Brandon Weeden.

Despite injured ribs and a lack of a preseason due to knee surgery, Richardson ran for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns on 267 carries. He also caught 51 passes for 367 yards and one touchdown. His 950 yards on the ground, 11 rushing touchdowns, 12 overall scores and 1,317 yards of total offense were all Browns rookie records.

Weeden also set Browns rookie records with 3,385 passing yards, five wins in 15 starts, and 364 passing yards in a win at Oakland on Dec. 2.

“One moment that was really good was against Cincinnati,” Mack said. “Trent took a little screen pass and he broke like five tackles and got in the end zone. You knew then that he was going to have some pretty exciting plays this year and he’s going to be a really good player.

“We had a lot of rookies on the team this year. They did a great job of stepping up, getting a lot of playing time. You want to see them grow and get better every week and I think a lot of guys did that. A lot of guys stepped up, filled that starting role and it shows a lot of hope for the future. We have a lot of young talent that’s going to be here for a long time and that’s how you build programs. I think we’re on the way.”

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