Defensive Line Back to Full Strength

Bryant missed the season opener after having surgery on his wrist. He returned last week and Hughes missed the first two games with a hamstring injury.

BEREA, Ohio—One of the perceived strengths of the Browns defense heading into the 2014 season was the defensive line. The Browns made virtually no moves on the defensive line either in free agency or through the draft.

However, with injuries to Billy Winn, Desmond Bryant and John Hughes, the entire group has not been healthy as of yet.

Bryant missed the season opener after having surgery on his wrist. He returned last week and Hughes missed the first two games with a hamstring injury.

There’s a good chance that could change this week as Hughes is back and expected to play. He will join Winn, Armonty Bryant, Desmond Bryant, Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen as candidates to suit up this week against the Ravens.

“It’ll be good to get that group completely healthy and out there,” Mike Pettine said Thursday. “It’ll make for some tough decisions. That’s a deep group. There could be a good player or two standing next to me in street clothes on game day, but that comes with the territory.”

Pettine said in the NFL, you never have enough guys up front.

“I think you need that depth to make it through a season, as we’ve already shown that you need guys to step up,” Pettine said. “It’s a good problem to have. We have some quality d-linemen, not the flashiest group in the league, but there’s quality there and there’s depth.”

Pettine said Bryant’s return last week helped him get back into the flow of the game and hopes he will continue to get better. Bryant was credited with two tackles.

“It could, and he was solid, nothing spectacular,” Pettine said. “I think it was typical of a guy coming off of a long lay-off. I think we were pretty smart with him, but with the depth of the group and the quality I just talked about we can be in mode of kind of feeding the hot hand if guys playing well, continue to play him.

“I know (defensive line coach) Anthony Weaver does a real good job and is very mindful as the game goes on of who’s playing well and the guys’ rep counts.”

NOTEBOOK

Stop the Tight End: After facing TE Jimmy Graham last week, the Browns will not get a big break in going up against the Ravens’ TE’s Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels. Graham had 10 receptions for 118 yards with two touchdowns.

“Jimmy Graham is in a class all by himself,” Pettine said. “Those two guys are good payers. Owen Daniels has been around the league for a long time. He knows the system inside out. He knows how to get open. He has a great catch radius.

“Pitta seems to obviously have a good relationship with (Joe) Flacco,” Pettine said. “There are a lot of targets that go his way. I would put him up there among the premier tight ends in league. He’s very underrated, but there’s a definite connection between he and the quarterback.”

Pitta is tied with WR Steve Smith, Sr. as the Ravens leading receiver with 13 receptions for 113 yards, while Daniels is tied for second with 9 catches for 62 yards and two touchdowns.

No Kubiak: Ravens OC Gary Kubiak hadn’t decided if he was ready to coach this season when Pettine was looking for an offensive coordinator.

“I spoke to him over the phone but never got to (an interview stage),” Pettine said. “He wasn’t sure he wanted to get back into it. Circumstances never materialized.”

Pettine hired Kubiak’s former OC Kyle Shanahan, while he was coach of the Texans.

No Distraction-Pettine said he wasn’t surprised that the Ravens and John Harbaugh were able to handle the distraction of the Ray Rice situation last week and went out and played a solid game and defeated the Steelers.

“It wasn’t a surprise,” he said. “I know john and he’s as good a coach that there is. He always has a plan and is very organized and has a message to the team. It’s easy from the outside to see the swirling distractions but inside you don’t have much choice but to prepare.”

Cameron, Mingo Questionable: RB Ben Tate (knee) remains the most likely player to not play Sunday against the ravens. LB Barkevious Mingo (shoulder) and TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder) were practicing during the portion of practice that is open to the media. Both were listed as limited on the injury report Wednesday.

Pettine said Wednesday that he was the least optimistic about Tate playing this week.

“I don’t see Tate going this week,” Pettine said.

During the portion of practice that was open to the media, Tate was on the stationary bike, while Mingo and Cameron were doing the individual drills with their position coaches.

Pettine said he was “cautiously optimistic” about Cameron playing this week.

Moore Returns: Special Teams coordinator Chris Tabor was asked why WR/KR Marlon Moore was the primary kickoff returner against the Saints instead of WR/KR Travis Benjamin.

“I like all our guys with regards to how New Orleans was going, (Moore) did some great things in the preseason,” Tabor said. “Travis Benjamin will still also return a lot of kicks for us.”

Moore had one return for 32 yards, with three others being touchbacks. Benjamin is the primary punt returner still. He had just one return for two yards, while having two fair catches.

Pettine’s Shout Out: Pettine started his press conference by praising one of his former players, DL Ma’ake Kemoeatu for retiring from the NFL this week to donate a kidney to his brother.

“He went from an undrafted guy to have a pretty good career,” Pettine said “The news was touching that he was retiring to give a kidney to his brother.”


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