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Browns coaches loved Cameron Erving's energy, effort; stress mistakes are correctable

The tape didn't lie. Mike Pettine acknowledged as much last week as he evaluated Cameron Erving's first NFL start.

The mistakes customary with a debut like the one Erving experienced last week at Pittsburgh "were glaring," Pettine said. And, as is life on the offensive line, those are the plays that unfortunately become magnified and scrutinized in the days and weeks after the fact.

But the tape didn't lie about something Pettine loved from Erving's first start, and that's why the coach talked confidently about the rookie finding some redemption as soon as next Monday against the Ravens.

"The thing I was most proud of was the energy, the enthusiasm, the toughness that he brought," Pettine said. "Trying to finish blocks and getting after guys when he could from an opponent standpoint. I liked the mentality that he played with. I just thought he was raw and excited and kind of all over the place and that led to some of his mistakes. But a lot of what he did wrong was very correctable.

"Nothing's changed in our assessment of Cam that he has a bright future in this league."

The status of starting left guard Joel Bitonio (ankle) is uncertain with a week to go before Cleveland returns to the field against the Ravens. The Browns return to the practice field Tuesday, and Pettine last said there was an outside chance Bitonio could be back in the lineup.

If he's not, Erving will continue to work in his place and will carry more than 60 snaps of experience he didn't have before the Browns' last game.

Assistant offensive line coach George DeLeone said the mistakes Erving made against the Steelers were "advanced calculus" because they were "tough situations that came up that an experienced player would have done better." DeLeone's confidence and assessment of Erving mimicked Pettine's.

"The shame of it was they were mistakes that an experienced player will not make, and in another game, they'll be mistakes that he won't make again," DeLeone said. "He's played spot duty here and there, but that was a real game. He knew what to do, but he didn't know the exact detail of how to do it.

"We love his enthusiasm. We love the way he played hard. There are a couple plays on that film you could say, 'Wow, this guy's going to be a really good player.'"

Erving, who played left tackle and center at Florida State, didn't play much at left guard until Bitonio's injury. His training camp and preseason were predominantly spent at left tackle when Joe Thomas rested and right guard behind John Greco.

DeLeone said Erving's knowledge of multiple spots along the offensive line helped him in a situation like last week's at Pittsburgh in the sense he wasn't overwhelmed by the in-game atmosphere. Before Bitonio's injury, Erving saw spot duty as a sixth offensive lineman and occasionally spelled Greco.

DeLeone brought up a specific instance where Erving "came off the ball like a freaking maniac" but was left in a poor position because the Steelers tweaked the look they'd shown on a previous play. It was a correctable mistake that Erving won't make in similar situations down the road, DeLeone said.

"I'd rather have the effort level, the intensity level was really good, and now, we have to get him to the exactness," DeLeone said. "It's a little more complicated sometimes than you think. He got some good things right, and I think he's got a great future."

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