Cleveland Browns training camp battles: Offensive line

The Browns’ offensive line last season was nothing short of a disaster. It’s a key reason why the team went 1-15 and went through so many starting quarterbacks that season. The front office wisely signed two key free agents to shore up the line and gave an extension to a current player.

At left tackle is old reliable Joe Thomas. The perennial Pro Bowler is still there despite constant trade rumors and still wants to be in Cleveland despite being 32 years old and heading into the back end of his career. The Browns are lucky to have him. Vying to be his backup are Roderick Johnson (a rookie from Florida State), and a couple of league journeymen. Hopefully Thomas plays every single snap again this season.

The left guard position is set with starter Joel Bitonio, who received a big contract extension this offseason, and Spencer Drango backing him up.

At center, the Browns filled a troubled position from last season by signing JC Tretter in free agency from the Green Bay Packers. Tretter should fill the position left vacant by Alex Mack much better than Cam Erving did last season. But Erving left the bar low. Tretter has a host of league veterans vying to be his backup.

Also coming to the team via free agency is right guard Kevin Zeitler, who the Browns snagged from intra-state rival Cincinnati. He will be backed up by John Greco.

Shon Coleman is back as the starter at right tackle, with Erving set to back him up. This arrangement worked out well in the back half of last season, with Erving looking better outside of the center position.

Position grade: A-

This is considered by Pro Football Focus to be one of the best offensive lines in the league now. I think it’s too early to say that, but if this group develops chemistry in camp, they will be much more improved from last year.



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