Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Two newbies, two departures

If you’re keeping score on the latest dealings by the Browns’ front office, say so long to inside linebacker Scooby Wright III and defensive end John Hughes and hello to quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and center Austin Reiter.

In the wake of a Sunday loss to Baltimore that saw rookie defensive end Carl Nassib sustain a broken hand, center Cameron Erving suffer a bruised lung and quarterback Josh McCown come up with some sort of shoulder injury, the fluid roster became even more fluid Tuesday.

In the process, that roster became even weaker than it was at the start of the 25-20 loss Sunday to the Ravens.

The already mediocre offensive line dipped in quality with John Greco moving from right guard to center to replace Erving and Alvin Bailey, who has been a spectator in the first two games, moving in at right guard.

The right side of the line on offense is bad to begin with and the latest moves take the talent level down another couple of notches. One can only imagine what kind of protection rookie quarterback Cody Kessler will receive in his National Football League debut Sunday in Miami against the Dolphins.

He’ll be working with a center who hasn’t played the position since temporarily filling in for Alex Mack when the center went down with a broken leg in game five of the 2014 season.

Bailey, a young veteran at 25, couldn’t beat out the very average Austin Pasztor at right tackle in training camp. We’ll find out soon enough whether he can cut it at guard. He’ll face Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh most of the afternoon on Sunday.

Picking up Reiter off the Washington Redskins’ practice squad gives Browns coaches some options in case the Greco-Bailey duo falters against the Dolphins, who have dialed up five sacks in the first two games this season. Greco can move back to guard with Reiter off the bench in the pivot.

It’s interesting the coaches have kept rookies Shon Coleman and Spencer Drango as backups to tackles Joe Thomas and Pasztor on the depth chart. Apparently, neither has been impressive enough to warrant at least a small look elsewhere.

The release of Hughes and Wright raised a few eyebrows. It is believed the recent arrival of free-agent ends Stephen Paea and Tyrone Holmes might have led to Hughes’ departure.

Wright, the club’s seventh-round pick last May, was inactive for the first two games after an exhibition season that saw him flash on a few occasions. The Browns hope he clears waivers so they can place him on the practice squad.

It is known the Arizona Cardinals had planned to sign Wright, a former University of Arizona standout, to their practice squad had he made it through the college draft without being selected. Now they have a chance to do just that.

Whitehurst, meanwhile, will back up Kessler against the Dolphins and cram as much as he can between now and Sunday to grasp coach Hue Jackson’s offense. It would appear rookie quarterback Kevin Hogan will remain on the practice squad.

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