WWBT: Season Opening Edition

OBR's Lane Adkins checks the team's temperature entering Week One.

With the start of the 2011 season just around the corner, here are the latest news, notes and speculations surround the Cleveland Browns, as obtained by The OBR's Lane Adkins.

- Recently acquired veteran offensive lineman Artis Hicks is being schooled in a quick manner in hopes to be ready for, potentially, a starting assignment against the Cincinnati Bengals in week one.

Hicks has played guard and tackle during his 10-year NFL career. In Cleveland, the Browns are hopeful he can fill the void at left guard after losing starter Eric Steinbach for the season because of back surgery.

Hicks and fellow guard Oniel Cousins are the back-ups for tackles Joe Thomas and Tony Pashos.

- Cousins, who was acquired late in camp, could play a critical role for the Browns in the 2011 season. Presently, Cousins backs up second-year guard Shawn Lauvao. Lauvao is inexperienced, but has been consistently improving with reps throughout camp. He saw limited playing time a season ago because of injury.

Cousins has the ability to play guard or tackle. Throughout his young career, Cousins has battled consistency issues, which led to his release in Baltimore.

- The Browns continue to scour the waiver wire and free agent lists, looking for a running back capable of coming in and contributing. Despite some big name types sitting on the sidelines, the Browns have not been enticed to bring in a veteran back.

- Rookie running back Armond Smith has done well accepting the criticism and coaching a young player in this league requires. Smith won over the Browns with his speed and quickness, but his toughness may have been the ultimate factor for him making the roster.

Smith hasn't been tentative with the ball, as he hits holes quickly and has a shiftiness about him that makes defenders fight to get a clean shot.

Despite his rookie status, Smith is going to be active on game-day and could gain some playing time as nobody associated with the Browns is certain whether back up running back Montario Hardesty can carry the load if necessary.

- When the Browns acquired quarterback Thaddeus Lewis off waivers from the St. Louis Rams, it was done without much fanfare or expectation.

After investigating the player and his ability, he is comparable to a slightly smaller version of starting quarterback Colt McCoy. Lewis has been nearly deadly the past two preseasons with the Rams, the last season with Browns head coach Pat Shurmur.

Lewis has displayed very good accuracy, solid footwork and the ability to escape out of the pocket, as well as a live arm. The acquisition of Lewis was not made to pay immediate dividends, but to add good depth and future opportunities at the position.

- Starting linebacker Chris Gocong's status is up in the air for Sunday's opener. Despite progressing from a neck-region injury, Gocong hasn't been able to practice and heading into the Bengals game, it appears Gocong will not be 100 percent.

- Kaluka Maiava has been getting starter reps with Gocong on the sidelines. If Gocong returns to practice this week, the expectation is for both to be groomed for playing time Sunday.

- Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, barring any additional injury issues, will be ready to play Sunday against the Bengals. Massaquoi is not expected to start. Wide receiver Josh Cribbs is expected to start opposite Brian Robiskie in the Browns' base set.

- Whereas Massaquoi is slated to play this weekend, the same shouldn't be expected of wide receiver Carlton Mitchel. Presently, Mitchell is believed to be no better than a 50-50 shot for Sunday, as he recovers from having surgery on his finger.

- Starting tight end Ben Watson has been handled carefully by the club in training camp after suffering a concussion and hamstring pull. Watson will practice this week and should play, barring any further injury issue.

- With starting right tackle Tony Pashos sporting a fashionable boot on his foot, one has to wonder just how hampered the lineman could be come Sunday. If the foot is serious enough to require wearing the device, there has to be concern heading into the season. Presently, all is quiet about his situation.


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