There are no certainties in free agency or the NFL Draft, but the Browns can bank on the closest thing to a sure thing of an upgrade to their active roster when Alex Mack returns to the field.
The Pro Bowl center left a big hole in the middle of the offensive line five games into the 2014 season that the Browns weren't quite able to fill in the final 11. Mack's recovery from a fractured fibula understandably has been long and difficult, but it's nearing the finish line as the Browns sit two months away from OTAs.
Coach Mike Pettine, in a recent interview with ClevelandBrowns.com, said he ran into Mack at the Browns facility shortly before departing for the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. He was encouraged enough to crack a joke about the encounter.
"If his recovery goes as well as he can grow a beard, he'll be full go before no time," Pettine said. "He's doing well."
Mack's intense work ethic on the practice field has been well-documented, and Pettine's seen enough to know it will be up to the coaching and training staff to "essentially save him from himself" during the early stages of his return. Mack will be tempted to push himself to the limit in April, but he'll have plenty of more voices in his helmet encouraging him to take it slow and steady.
"He'll be very limited more so by our choice in the spring," Pettine said. "We're looking forward to having him full go for training camp."
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