Dealing with Loss of Mack, Bryant

Browns expected to be without starting center, defensive lineman for the remainder of the 2014 season.

BEREA, Ohio—The Browns win over the Steelers came at a steep price.

The Browns lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack for likely the remainder of the season and up-and-coming defensive lineman Armonty Bryant for the year.

Mike Pettine said it’s next man up for the Browns. Likely, John Greco will play center this week and possibly beyond

“I thought John Greco did an outstanding job of stepping up and playing center, then Paul McQuistan coming in and being able to finish the game out for us at guard,” Pettine said. “I thought that was critical to our success.

The Browns have to make some decisions on the defensive line as they entered the game missing three players on the defensive line with injuries in Phil Taylor (knee surgery), Billy Winn (quad) and Ahtyba Rubin (ankle). They finished the Steelers game with just three defensive linemen.

“We were already short-handed for the defensive line with Phil being out, Billy being out, Rubin being out, and then losing Armonty on the sixth or seventh play,” Pettine said. “To have guys like‘Kitch’ (Ishmaa’ily Kitchen) and John Hughes, who were inactive last week, to go from that to playing the number of snaps that they did at a high level and to produce the way they did, that just speaks to their character and mental toughness.

“I think it’s a shout out to the guys coaching them, as well. I thought we played our best game together, just meaning from a complete game.”

Pettine said it is impossible to replace a player like Mack.

“It is,” Pettine said. “It’s tough. It’s not just losing his play, but it’s also an emotional letdown, as well, to have a guy that just exemplified everything you’re trying to get done. To lose him and potentially, we still don’t know, but it’s looking like it will be…We’ll probably know later in the week if it is for the year.

“It’s big, but at the same time I told the team in the meeting (Mnday),” he said. “We lost two warriors in him and Armonty, but when we check the mail. There’s not going to be any sympathy cards from around the league. It’s the cliché, but it is truly next man up. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, and I’m confident in the guys that we’ll end up either promoting or bringing somebody in. I’m confident that we’ll put a functional group out there.”

Pettine didn’t rule out Mack for the season, but did say the minimum he would be out is eight games that would put him well into December.

Pettine said Greco might eventually move back to right guard as Nick McDonald is eligible to come off of the reserve/non-football injury list with a wrist injury.

“That we don’t know because in Nick McDonald we have a guy that’s played some quality snaps at center before in the league,” he said. “He’s just coming off NFI (non-football injury list). The plan right now is to practice him this week, but I don’t foresee him playing this week. I could see in the short term that is going to be John, but we still haven’t…We’re a mile away from making that decision.

“We have some options whether we keep Paul at guard, whether we let Paul continue to be the swing and have (Vinston) Painter play guard. We have a couple linemen on the practice squad we’re going to take a look at potentially promoting. There are options. That’s stuff that I’m going to get with the offensive guys tonight we’ll start to work out.”

It likely will come down to playing McDonald, McQuistan or Painter, whoever the coaching staff gives the Browns the best unit.

“You just don’t want to have to move multiple guys,” Pettine said. “That’s what we had to do in the game because that was our next best option. You’d like to have a straight…Your ideal world – if you’re only going to have seven linemen up is to have a tackle that can come in and play both, a swing tackle and then have a swing guy inside that can play center.

“That way if you get any issue that it’s a one-for-one swap,” he said. “We weren’t able to do that, and that’s why John had to go in. It was a two position move. You’d prefer to avoid that. The circumstances didn’t allow us to. We just felt Paul – given his veteran experience – we knew that he was going to be the first guy in.”

On the defensive side, Pettine is hopeful that either Rubin or Winn will be back this week.

“We’re hopeful to get ‘Rube’ (Rubin), but that’s still wait and see to see how he responds early in the week,” Pettine said. “I do think that we’ll need to make a move to replace Armonty, just from a numbers standpoint.

“I know Ray (Farmer) and his crew are working on that,” he said. “We do have some options there, as well. He’ll be difficult to replace, was one of our most productive pass-rushers. The short amount of time he was in there yesterday, [he] was playing well, but was pleased to see those guys step up. Des (Bryant), in particular, I thought played his best game to date when it was needed.”

Notebook

No Contract Talks: QB Brian Hoyer celebrated his 29th birthday on Monday but he spent time answering questions about his contract after a report from Bleacher Report came out that said he didn’t want to stay with the Browns long-term if QB Johnny Manziel was still on the roster.

“I don’t know who got that report,” Hoyer said. That’s something I have an agent to handle. Right now, I’m focusing on Jacksonville.”

Hoyer also added.

“I don’t think I need to say more than I’m from Cleveland and this is where I want to be,” he said. “But I’m a competitor. I want to be somewhere where I’m playing.”

Injury Update: Other than the surgeries to C Alex Mack and DL Armonty Bryant, Pettine didn’t have more information on DL Ahtyba Rubin (ankle), DL Billy Winn (quad) and DB K’Waun Williams (concussion).

Williams is in the NFL protocol and is being evaluated.

“We’ll see (where he’s at),” Pettine said. “He’ll be evaluated every day. He hasn’t been ruled out


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