The Browns will be without one of their mainstays on the offensive line for the 2011 season.
“Eric developed some back pain through the training camp practices and we went through a course to try and get it settled down,” Shurmur said. “That didn’t seem to work and so, the next step in this is to get rid of some of the pain he was having and it required surgery.”
Prior to this season, Steinbach had appeared and started in all but two games over four years with the Browns. He has started 124 of 125 career games between stops with the Browns and Cincinnati Bengals.
“It’s a big loss anytime you lose a starter on the offensive line,” Shurmur said. “We’re going to have to find a way to replace him. He’s been a good player here for a long time, a very productive player, very durable. We’re going to miss him. It’s just not a fun thing when you have to replace a guy like Eric.”
Steinbach was signed as a free agent in 2007 and lined up next to a then-rookie left tackle,
“I’m definitely disappointed Eric had to have surgery,” Thomas said after practice Tuesday. “Obviously, he’s been a huge part of our success on the offensive line over the last four years. We’re going to do everything we can to get somebody in there to play until he’s ready.”
Thomas said he had spoken to Steinbach a couple times recently and felt his teammate was both “frustrated and disappointed.”
“He was expecting to have a great year, just like the rest of us,” Thomas said. “It’s definitely a loss. He’s been playing really well for us. I don’t know what the prognosis is after surgery, but I definitely can’t wait to get him back.”
After being a student of the game and learning from Steinbach, Thomas now finds himself in the role of mentor along the offensive line. In Steinbach’s absence, rookie
Pinkston, a tackle at the University of Pittsburgh, has a tall task ahead of him in replacing Steinbach.
“It’s really difficult, especially when you didn’t have any OTAs; you didn’t have any mini-camps,” Thomas said of Pinkston starting right away. “You didn’t come in as a starter in training camp, so you only got half of the No. 1 reps because the injury happened midway through training camp. It’s definitely an uphill battle, especially for a rookie. It’d be an uphill battle for anybody who didn’t get all the reps with the new offense, a new coach and everything like that. We’ll get him ready for that first game, whoever it is.”
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