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Need to Know: OL Joel Bitonio, Cameron Erving sidelined with injuries

Posted Aug 16, 2017

Players will miss Monday’s game, considered week to week

Offensive linemen Joel Bitonio and Cameron Erving won’t play in Monday’s preseason game against the Giants and are considered week to week with their respective injuries.

Bitonio (knee) and Erving (calf) suffered their injuries during Tuesday’s practice. With Joe Thomas already ruled out for Monday’s game, both were originally slated to start. Now, rookie Rod Johnson is set to start at left tackle and veteran John Greco is poised to replace Bitonio at left guard.

“We will see where they are and hopefully we get them back as soon as we can,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “I know our medical staff, they do everything they can to get our guys back soon, but I don’t think it is anything major that is going to keep them out a ton of time. I just think we have to work through some things to make sure we get those guys both healthy.”

Jackson said he hoped both players would be ready for the season opener. Bitonio, who signed a contract extension during the offseason, was entrenched as the starting left guard while Erving was competing with Shon Coleman for the starting spot at right tackle.

“We just never know medically how these things work, but I think we are right in that window where we have an opportunity to have them both back and ready to go and I feel good about that,” Jackson said. “We will see how that goes.”

Bitonio has played in just 15 games over the past two seasons because of multiple injuries. He saw the field in just five last year after suffering a foot injury that required surgery.

“Trust me, this is not Joel doing this,” Jackson said. “Things happen, and so hopefully we will get him back. I know we will get him back. I am very comfortable and confident that he will be back and will be back soon – sooner rather than later – and be ready to play. You guys know how he is. He is very competitive. He wants to be out here right now.”

-- In the midst of naming Brock Osweiler as Cleveland’s starting quarterback for Monday’s preseason opener, Jackson said he’d like to have the team’s regular season rotation nailed down by the third preseason game, set for Aug. 26 at Tampa Bay.

“I think whoever trots out there (in the third preseason game) has a very good chance of trotting out there against the Steelers,” Jackson said.

Jackson stressed his decision for Monday’s game “doesn’t mean anything for the regular season.”

-- Rookie tight end David Njoku said he plans on playing Monday’s game against the Giants after missing the preseason opener because of a sore back. ““It was hard, but it was the smart thing to do,” he said of missing a 20-14 win over the Saints. “I have to make sure that I’m healthy and ready to go before I go so I agree with coach Jackson’s choice of holding me out, and I’ll be ready to go.” Njoku was the 29th overall pick in the NFL Draft.

-- Before the Bitonio and Erving news was revealed, Thomas explained why he wouldn’t play against the Giants and why the third preseason game would be the time for his first on-field action of his 11th season.

“(The third game) is typically the most important one for the first unit that they will get the most work,” Thomas said. “That is my plan, and that is the plan I think that gives me the best opportunity to get ready for the season and be able to survive the full 16 weeks.”

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