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Training Camp

Browns welcome open and feisty competition at right tackle position

Upon the conclusion of offseason workouts, Hue Jackson described the Browns' new-look offensive line as a work in progress but one that's starting to come together. And as Cleveland prepares for its third day of training camp, the right tackle position is an open competition that could remain that way for some time.

"I anticipate that it'll be a battle today, tomorrow, a month from now, two months from now," said offensive line coach Hal Hunter, who met with reporters Sunday ahead of practice.

After all, that's what happens when you have a handful of contenders for the position, including fourth-year tackle Alvin Bailey and third-round draft pick Shon Coleman.

"It'll always be a battle because you've got two talented guys lining up at the same position and they're competitive and very tough, and they want that position," Hunter said.

Bailey enters his first season with the Browns after three years in Seattle and Coleman, who spent much of the offseason recovering from a knee injury at Auburn, was considered one of college football's top tackles.

As a result, there's been plenty of jockeying to start on an offensive line that could be the backbone of what Jackson and Co. hope will be a "run-oriented" and physical offense.

While the Browns return an impressive bunch in Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, left guard Joel Bitonio and right guard John Greco, they must find a way to replace Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz, who parted ways with the team in free agency this winter.

Cleveland has made considerable headway in addressing that dynamic since March. At center, 2015 first-round draft pick Cameron Erving seems poised to earn a starting job after a strong offseason. And at right tackle, the Browns acquired Bailey in March before scooping up Coleman in the third round of the draft.

Saturday marked the second day of the Browns Training Camp at the facility in Berea.

Hunter said he's been encouraged by the progress of both players, but there's still work to be done in finding the best talent at the position.

"Shon's had one practice since he played at Auburn, he's a little bit rusty right now. He was a really fine player when we looked at him on tape from Auburn, we have really high hopes for him," he said, adding Bailey is "transitioning to a whole new system from Seattle, he made good progress in the spring, he keeps making good progress."

Coleman on Saturday echoed his coach's comments, saying he's focused on incremental improvement.

"My big thing is coming out here and just getting better, just being out here grinding any way to make the team better," he said. "That's what I am focused on right now."

Bailey, who started eight games — including a win in Super Bowl XLVIII — for the Seahawks, approaches camp with a similar approach.

"It's always a competition, we come out here and we push each other to the limits every day, we come out here and everybody works hard," Bailey said. "We help each other out, grab somebody if we need to and we all work hard." 

And as the Browns suit up in full pads Sunday for the first day of hitting since January, it should help the coaching staff continue to assess what their options are going forward.

"I'm anticipating that it's going to be a battle here," Hunter said, "and it's going to be a close one and let the best man win."

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