1. Austin Pasztor to start at left guard
Austin Pasztor knows patience.
Undrafted out of the University of Virginia, Pasztor broke into the NFL the hard way. He was cut after his first NFL training camp in Minnesota and landed with the Jaguars as a practice squad player. Eventually, he earned his way onto the field and started the final three games of his rookie season. More than two years later, after logging a combined 23 starts over three seasons, Pasztor was cut at the end of another training camp.
Since the Browns claimed him off waivers at the start of the season, Pasztor has served as a reserve lineman used almost exclusively on special teams. On Sunday, he spelled a struggling Cameron Erving for the final nine plays of Cleveland's loss to Cincinnati. Against the 49ers this coming Sunday, he'll make his first start in more than a year when he fills the void left by an injured Joel Bitonio at left guard.
"Offensive line requires a strong work ethic," Pasztor said. "Coming in undrafted puts that fire under your butt to get after it and work hard and I think that helps players be successful."
Pasztor primarily played right tackle for the Jaguars. He started 12 of 16 games in 2013 and eight in an injury-plagued 2014 season.
"I like playing them all," Pasztor said. "It's fun either way."
With Pasztor up, Erving will remain the Browns' first lineman off the bench.
"I don't think anybody is more frustrated than he is because he will have a stretch of four or five good plays where he does his job, does it well, but he has made critical mistakes and ones that have had a big effect, whether it is giving up a quarterback hit or a sack," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "We have not lost confidence or faith in Cam, but it is just something that Austin is a guy here on campus that we also want to see play, and he has been great since he has been here. He works his tail off and he knows what to do."
Erving took accountability for his struggles in frank fashion after Wednesday's practice. He vowed to increase his strength and shied away from any and all excuses.
"I just have faith and I kept pushing and that is what I am going to continue to do now," Erving said. "I am going to keep working and I am going to get better. This is not it."
2. Updating the injury situation
Wide receiver Travis Benjamin (shoulder) was one of five players unable to practice Wednesday because of an injury. The four players in the league's concussion protocol -- DB Joe Haden, WR Andrew Hawkins, WR Taylor Gabriel and DB Justin Gilbert -- were the others.
Benjamin's injury, which occurred during the first quarter against the Bengals, has been described as "day to day."
Wide receivers Brian Hartline (hip) and Marlon Moore (ribs) and tight end Gary Barnidge (ankle) were among the limited participants.
Students at Wade Park Elementary won the Browns Fuel Up to Play 60 challenge, and were visited by Browns players this week.
3. Sooner than later
Terrelle Pryor wasn't active for last week's game against the Bengals, and there's no certainty if he will be Sunday against the 49ers, but Pettine has been encouraged by his progress.
As the Browns deal with a handful of injuries at wide receiver, Pettine said there was a "reasonable chance" Pryor would make his NFL debut at his new position as soon as Sunday.
"To his credit, he came in here in very good shape, and the knowledge that he gained of our system quickly came back to him. That was a positive," Pettine said. "You assume the worst when a guy just gets here. 'Let's assume he hasn't done much and is out of shape and he has forgotten a lot of what we have done.' That is not the case with Terrelle. Hopefully we can get him out there sooner than later."
4. 'Crappy luck' for Bitonio
Same ankle, same play, different injury.
That's how Bitonio described the ankle injury that will keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.
Bitonio had missed the previous two games with a minor ankle injury leading into the Bengals game. Six plays into it, he experienced the worst kind of deja vu.
"Just kind of crappy luck," Bitonio said. "It could always be worse, but it is really disheartening because now I am not going to put pads on again until next August and not play in another game until then. It hurts a little bit and I have been bummed, but I am trying to give these guys some moral support and really just help them out. Hopefully we can get a few wins to finish the year off."
5. San Francisco a nice landing spot for Draughn
Praised for his veteran savvy and leadership in the running backs room during his time with the Browns, Shaun Draughn has fit in nicely with the 49ers.
Acquired by the 49ers in early November just a couple of weeks after he was released by the Browns, Draughn has taken over as San Francisco's No. 1 running back in place of the injured Carlos Hyde. In four games, Draughn has carried the ball 56 times for 182 yards and caught 22 passes for 163 yards.
He'l likely be the 49ers' main ball-carrier Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
"I was up there last week thanking our personnel department for finding Shaun Draughn," San Francisco coach Jim Tomsula said. "He's really smart. That first week he was here, he learned all of the protections, all of those things that you do when the ball's not in your hands … We're really happy to have him."