BEREA-- When Jason Pinkston was lost for the season with a blood clot in his lungs, the Browns turned to veteran John Greco to fill his shoes and the transition has been seamless.
Greco, 27, has the versatility required to play in the NFL.
“I think he’s done a pretty solid job,” Pat Shurmur said. “There are areas he needs to get better, but for the most part, he’s done a good job. I haven’t seen a drop off (from Pinkston).”
Pinkston was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 22. Veteran Joe Thomas said Greco fit right in at left guard.
Greco has been blocking for Trent Richardson in his back-to-back 100-yard games.
“I think he works well with the guys he’s working with,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s done a pretty good job blocking in the running game.”
Greco (6-4, 315) is in his fifth NFL season and second with the Browns. He has started seven NFL games, including the last three this season. He played at Toledo after growing up in Youngstown and playing at Boardman. Greco was a third-round draft choice for the Rams in 2008.
Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas has been impressed with Greco.
“I think he has done a nice job,” Thomas said. “It’s always hard to come in, in the middle of the year and take over for a starter that goes down, but I think he’s done a really good job coming in.”
Shurmur was familiar with Greco while he was the offensive coordinator with the Rams in 2010 and that was part of the reason the Browns traded for him in 2011.
“He’s a multiple position guy,” Shurmur said. “I’ve seen him at center, guard and even at tackle. When you are a backup player, that’s what initially intrigued me about getting him here.”
Thomas said Greco’s experience has paid off for him.
“He’s got the most experience and he’s actually one of the older guys on the o-line,” he said. “He was our most readied backup, so it’s been a pretty seamless transition.”
Faithful Phil: K Phil Dawson returns to Dallas to face his favorite team of his youth this Sunday. Dawson has not missed a kick this season. Shurmur reacted when that was brought up with dismay.
“Don’t bring that up,” Shurmur said with a smile.
Dawson is 17-of-17 in field goal attempts and is perfect on PATs with 16. On the season, Dawson leads the team with 67 points.
“He’s one of the outstanding kickers in this league,” Shurmur said. “I’m fond of the way he practices. I’m fond of the way he produces in games. He’s just clutch.”
Shurmur said he practices and simulates as close to game situations as can be and that helps him prepare.
“I think he approaches practice the same way he would in a game,” he said. “I know for a fact he tries to recreate what happens in practice for games”
Patterson Update: DB Dimitri Patterson is currently the only Browns player not expected to play this week. Patterson has been out since injuring his ankle against the Giants Oct. 7. Patterson is hoping to return for next week’s home game with the Steelers.
“I just started running, so that’s going good, and I haven’t had any setbacks, Patterson said. “I don’t have an exact time (of returning), but not this week. I am getting close, I just don’t know if it will be next Sunday.”
Patterson (ankle) is listed as doubtful, while DB Joe Haden (oblique), DL Ahtyba Rubin (calf) and DB Buster Skrine (ankle) were limited and are questionable. The rest are probable: WR Josh Cribbs (wrist), LB D’Qwell Jackson (calf), WR Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring), RB Trent Richardson (chest, rib, finger), DL Frostee Rucker (shoulder), DB Ray Ventrone (hand/calf) DL Phil Taylor (chest/ ankle), DB T.J. Ward (hand) and QB Brandon Weeden (groin/thigh).
Norwood Return: WR Jordan Norwood was placed on the list of injured reserve with a designation that he can return, possibly as early as next week. Shurmur was non-committal on his possible return.
“When it’s time for him to come back, we’ll have to take a look at him and see where he’s at,” he said. “He hasn’t practiced, which he can’t, so we’ll have to see.”
Rubin/Taylor Tandem: Sunday should be the first game that last year’s starting tandem of defensive tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin are paired together.
“It’s really good to have them all back,” defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. “It gives us significant depth (on the defensive line).”
Jauron said that Rubin (calf) is moving much better.
“He’s getting around much better than he was (in previous weeks).”
Jauron said the game plan will not change much having both players back.
“I know neither (Taylor and Rubin) have played much football in the last few weeks,” he said. “We’ll have to get a feel on how much they can play.”
Facing Rob: Shurmur said he isn’t concerned that Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan knows the Browns personnel from his days with the Browns in 2009 and 2010.
“I don’t know Rob Ryan,” Shurmur said. “I have great respect for him. I know (former Browns defensive backs coach) Jerome (Henderson) was here and I know of the men. Knowing their style you still have to watch the tape and try and put the players against the players.”