AURORA — **Shon Coleman spent the offseason working out in Berea in hopes of securing a starting spot on the Browns' new-look offensive line.
The second-year right tackle will get his shot as Cleveland opens OTAs this week.
"I think he has all the ability to do it," left tackle and 10-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas said Monday at the annual Cleveland Browns Foundation Golf Tournament.
To be sure, Coleman — a third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft — will have to earn such a role on a new-look offensive line that added former Bengals right guard Kevin Zeitler and former Packers center JC Tretter during free agency.
Coleman, a third-round pick in 2016, could be the final piece to a starting unit that was decimated by injuries in a 1-15 season. Though a knee injury limited him during training camp, Coleman played in seven games as a rookie and was regarded as one of the best tackles coming out of the NFL Draft last year.
Thomas said he likes what he's seen out of Coleman, "but there's just a matter of going out and proving that he can because he hasn't had a lot of NFL action yet and there's a difference between showing you can do it in practice and showing you can do it in a game."
Coleman, of course, won't have anything handed to him. He'll face competition from Cameron Erving, whom head coach Hue Jackson said in March will have just as much of a chance to earn a starting job after making 13 starts last season. The Browns also return veteran John Greco, who showed off his versatility in 2016 by playing both center, guard and started 36 games at left tackle in college.
That kind of depth, Thomas said, can be an advantage for the Browns next season not only at tackle but also across the unit.
"I think obviously the offensive line was not very good (last year)," he said, "and I think adding a couple guys that we have will help not only the beginning of season starting five but, if we do run into a situation like we did last year where you have a couple injures, you have guys that can step in and be good players."
Indeed, the Browns were dealt season-ending injuries to Greco, starting left guard Joel Bitonio and Erving missed time with a bruised lung early in the year. If there is a silver lining to be gleaned from such misfortune, it's that Cleveland can now rely on youngsters in Spencer Drango, Austin Reiter and Anthony Fabiano, who combined for 11 starts last season, if need be. The Browns also added Marcus Martin, the former 49ers starting center, off waivers in March and drafted former Florida State left tackle Rod Johnson in the fifth round last month.
"Injuries are going to happen on the offensive line in the NFL," Thomas said, "and so having a little bit of a contingency plan and having guys that can move around and play different positions well will help us from an offensive standpoint."