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Greco, Schwartz embrace Cameron Erving's arrival, competition

A thought popped in John Greco's head in the hours leading up to the Browns' first OTA of 2015.

Guys with his background are getting harder and harder to find in Cleveland's offensive line room.

With the selection of Cameron Erving in the first round of the 2015 draft, the Browns now boast five offensive linemen who were selected in the first or second round. Greco, meanwhile, not only wasn't drafted by the Browns, but was also a third-round selection out of Toledo in the 2008 draft.

"I see a trend," Greco said, clearly joking. "They're trying to get a bunch of first- and second-rounders in here. That's great. I'm the old man, me and Joe (Thomas) now, and I'm trying to do everything I can to stay on the field."

Greco wasn't fazed in the slightest when the Browns drafted Erving, who is capable of playing all five positions but is most likely slotted to compete at right guard or right tackle in 2015. Greco said he doesn't waste time feeling threatened by the prospect of Erving battling him at right guard, where Greco logged 15 of his 16 starts last season.

Nothing's ever been handed to Greco, and he wouldn't expect it to be in 2015 -- even if the Browns didn't draft an offensive lineman in the first round.

"People are like, 'oh, you're benched,' or, 'oh, you're gone.' It just creates competition. I have to play hard no matter what," Greco said. "I have to essentially act like there's a first-rounder every year. You can't just become satisfied. There's never been a point in my career where I'm like, 'OK, I'm the guy. There's no one knocking on the door behind me. It's just me and you can relax.' When you do that, you're going to play bad."

Erving was in Greco's spot with the first-team offense at Tuesday's OTA. Greco, though, was right beside him, as he filled in for Alex Mack, who is still recovering from a serious leg injury, at center while the rest of last year's starting offensive line (left tackle Joe Thomas, left guard Joel Bitonio and right guard Mitchell Schwartz) occupied their usual spots.

Pettine said Erving will "play all over the place," including left tackle, throughout OTAs. He's not worried about Erving potentially feeling overwhelmed.

"I could see the potential danger, but I think that's a risk worth taking," Pettine said. "In our evaluation of him coming out, he certainly proved that he was able to do it in college. Just knowing the kid and his skill set and his ability to learn, there's no reason to think that he won't be able to do it. There will be signs when it's getting to be too much, and hopefully as coaches we can pick those up.

"I think anytime you have versatile guys that can play multiple positions that always puts you in a position to put your best 11 out there."

That sort of opinion was reflected among Erving's new teammates, too.

Greco said Erving has been "great" in his interactions with the veterans and promises to be a "very valuable asset" for years to come on the Browns' offensive line.

"He's a smart young kid and obviously he can play anywhere," Greco said. "He's a good kid, asks questions and you can tell he's smart. He fit in, same with the other rookies. We're a good group of linemen. We don't mess with those guys too much. We welcome them and we know he's going to help our team."

Earlier in the month, Pettine said Erving's path to immediate playing time likely would come on the right side of the offensive line. That, of course, includes right tackle, a spot that has been occupied by Schwartz full-time since 2012. Schwartz hasn't missed a single snap since the Browns selected him 47th overall three years ago.

Schwartz's reaction to Erving's arrival was similar to Greco's. He's embracing it.

"You really just go about your job and do the best you can," Schwartz said. "You can only control what you can control. They've got to play the best five guys, regardless. That's something each individual player controls how well they do on the field. Anything besides that is out of your hands."

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