The final day of our offensive position previews focuses on the group that got the biggest offseason facelift.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE
What happened at OTAs: The Browns added two big pieces to the offensive line during free agency, and both Tretter and Zeitler were on the field for the majority of the spring. Tretter, who is set take over at center, missed the final couple of minicamp practices with a minor injury. The new faces didn’t spend too much on-field time with the players who are poised to surround them this season, though, as Thomas did not participate in any on-field drills and Bitonio continued his recovery from foot surgery. Both are expected to be ready for the season, and they’ll start the process of developing chemistry at training camp. Coleman and Erving began their competition for the vacant right tackle spot, with Coleman working with the first team whenever he wasn’t filling in for Thomas at left tackle. Johnson, a fifth-round rookie, and Drango earned valuable first-team repetitions because of the aforementioned vets on the sidelines.
Under the radar: The Browns dealt with issues at center throughout the 2016 season. Erving entered the year as the starter but missed a decent chunk of time because of a bruised lung. Greco and Reiter helped fill the void but it remained an unstable spot that had a ripple effect on the rest of the offensive line. Depth at that position shouldn’t be an issue in 2017, as the Browns are loaded up with players who can play it at a high level. Reiter, who showed promise in his one start, is back after suffering a season-ending knee injury. Martin, who was a starter in San Francisco, joined the team via waivers. Fabiano started the final game of 2016 and Ikard has been with the team on and off over the past two seasons. To make the squad, they’ll have to show they can do more than just play center, as versatility is essential for backup offensive linemen.
Variables to consider: Erving can be a valuable asset to the line even if he doesn’t win the competition at right tackle. He has experience at both guard spots, center and has even lined up at left tackle during preseason games. Greco brings the same kind of versatility, but it’s unclear when he’ll be available and 100 percent set to return. Coleman continues to learn the right tackle position but admitted last month he was still a little more comfortable on the left side, where he played as a high schooler and college player. Drango also has the kind of versatility that lends itself well to a do-it-all backup spot.
Quote to note: “When it is time to play the game, if we have to pass it all game, we will. If we get to run it all game, that is awesome. We will be ready for whatever we need to do.” - Zeitler
Stat tracker: Thomas is 66 snaps away from hitting 10,000 consecutive snaps played. He has not missed a single one since entering the league in 2007.
How many were kept at last year’s 53-man cutdown?: Eight