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Loss of John Greco 'huge' for Browns O-line, 'next man up' to be determined

After rushing for 163 yards, averaging nearly 6 yards per carry, in a Week 4 loss to the Redskins, the Browns ascended to No. 1 in the NFL in rushing offense.

Less than two months later, three of the five starting offensive linemen from that game are on the team's injured reserve. The latest came Monday, as veteran John Greco was ruled out for the season because of a foot injury.

Greco joins offensive linemen Joel Bitonio and Austin Reiter on an injured reserve list that now features 12 players.

"We have been through this already, so we will reshuffle again and we'll stick somebody in at right guard and on we go," Browns coach Hue Jackson said Monday.

Greco, though, was more than just a right guard for the Browns.

Greco started every game this season and had his versatility tested more than once. He rotated back and forth between right guard and center while Cameron Erving sat out with a bruised lung. Reiter, who was signed off the Redskins' practice squad, provided some brief relief but was ultimately lost for the season when he injured his knee at the end of Cleveland's loss to the Redskins.

Greco has started 66 games for the Browns since he was acquired in 2011.

"I think John has been one of the most valuable members of our line," Jackson said. "Anytime you have a guy that can play guard and start at guard for us but can play center like that, which he has had to do several times this year and we did not miss a beat. That is a huge loss for us, so I think he has had a really good season, but probably if you asked John he would say it is not where he wants to be.

"He is a member of our team and I am looking forward to getting him back as soon as we can."

The Browns have a few options to replace Greco and will use the extended time provided by this weekend's bye to determine who will be plugged in his place.

Alvin Bailey was one of the few options to replace Greco on Sunday because of the team's number of active offensive linemen. Jonathan Cooper, whom the Browns claimed earlier in the season but have not utilized much, is another option. Starting right tackle Austin Pasztor has played guard in the past.

Without Greco, the Browns also lose their backup center, which may lead a player such as Gabe Ikard to be active against the Bengals and beyond.

Cleveland added more depth to its offensive line room Monday when it claimed veteran Matt McCants off waivers from the Raiders. McCants has been primarily utilized as a tackle during his NFL career.

The Browns have surrendered 15 sacks in their past two games and will look to buck that trend during their final four games -- no matter who lands the starting role at right guard.

"We will put somebody in," Jackson said. "It is next man up."

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