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Chris Hubbard answers the bell, no matter the spot on O-line

Veteran offensive lineman could be next man up while Wyatt Teller recovers from calf strain

Chris Hubbard takes his preparation seriously. The sixth man on the offensive line has to be ready for anything, and he can't let a minute go to waste as he readies himself for the upcoming game.

There's just only so much a player — even the most studious like Hubbard — can control. 

When Hubbard was summoned Sunday to take over for RG Wyatt Teller, he'd logged exactly one rep at guard throughout the team's week of practice. Compounding matters, Hubbard, a longtime tackle, had never before played guard in an NFL regular season game.

"It was surreal," Hubbard said. "I never thought about playing guard in a game before. It just never crossed my mind."

Hubbard, though, made the on-the-fly transition look seamless, and he may just have to do it again Sunday against the Steelers.

The veteran more than held his own at the position and delivered a pivotal pulling block on a 28-yard run by D'Ernest Johnson late in the action of Cleveland's win over the Colts. It marked the second time this season Hubbard filled the void for a Browns starter — he started and played every snap at right tackle in Cleveland's Week 2 win over the Bengals — and further solidified just how valuable he is to offense as a whole.

"I can't say enough good things about Chris," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "He is a key member of our social justice committee. He is a great teammate. His teammates really respect him. He does anything you ask of him. It is just kind of the makeup of Chris Hubbard."

As players and coaches went through the tunnel and into the locker room after their win, smiles and fist bumps were shared among players, and the 12,000 fans roared in approval. The Browns had pushed their record to 4-1 for the first time since 1994, but it was who they beat — and the way they won — that made the feeling special.

That makeup came to the forefront when Hubbard didn't bat an eye when the Browns signed Jack Conklin at the start of free agency. Conklin was signed to take over at right tackle, the spot Hubbard occupied as the starter for the previous two seasons.

Asked if he was discouraged, Hubbard said "not at all." He just went right back to work and carved out a valuable spot on the roster for himself. He called it "humbling" with his new task of understanding and, at a moment's notice, being asked to play any position on the offensive line at a high level.

"No matter what, this game is going to have its changes," Hubbard said. "Jack is doing a great job handling his job. I am just here to continue to fill the role and continue to help this team win no matter whenever they need me. I would kick the ball if they asked me to kick the ball. I am constantly trying to learn the game.

"It is something that you never want to see any injuries happen. You never want to see anything happen to anybody, but just being able to be ready and stay constantly ready, that is something that this league is about."

Hubbard's role could be much simpler this week. Teller is dealing with a calf strain and is considered "week to week" and less so "day to day," Stefanski said. That likely means Hubbard will have more than his fair share of reps at guards this week as he prepares to face Pittsburgh, where he spent the first five years of his career.

Hubbard enters every game ready for everything. It could take on a slightly different meaning Sunday.

"Oh man, this is going to be fun going into this game," Hubbard said. "I think for the most part, the intensity of the game is going to be at an all-time high because we are a different unit this year and we have a different scheme. We are a very hungry team this year. We are very hungry. Those are some of the things that you will see on Sunday."

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