BEREA, Ohio—As the Browns try to replace Alex Mack, who is out for the majority of the season with a broken leg, Mike Pettine said there’s still time for a change in course for this week, but it’s likely that John Greco will be the center this week and Paul McQuistan will be the right guard.
That is how the Browns finished the game last week with the Steelers after Mack’s injury.
“If I had to say probably, McQuistan, but we’ll see,” Pettine said. “We’ll get a good look (Thursday) at it with the repetitions.”
Pettine said that Vinston Painter is still in the mix to play right guard.
He also didn’t rule out Nick McDonald being activated after practicing for the first time Wednesday. He was listed as limited on the injury report.
“The other guy that took team reps (Wednesday) was Nick McDonald,” Pettine said. “We were very pleased with him with his conditioning. I don’t see a case this week where we’d activate him, but we’ll be making that decision.”
Mack had surgery on his broken leg Thursday in North Carolina and is currently on the active roster. The Browns have just six offensive linemen available. Pettine was asked if they would add another offensive lineman for the game.
“That would be a safe assumption.”
If they don’t activate McDonald, it is likely it would be a player off the practice squad. They currently have Karim Barton, Braxston Cave and Ryan Seymour on the practice squad and one would be added to the 53-man roster.
Williams Doubtful: Pettine said that he doubted if DB K’Waun Williams (concussion) would be cleared from his concussion in time to play this week against the Jaguars. He did not practice Thursday.
“We’re not sure yet I would say it’s doubtful for this weekend based on the time it’s taken for him to be symptom free,” Pettine said. “I don’t want to rule him out yet, but it’s probably a safe bet.”
“We have personnel groupings so its not just Justin outside we do have some depth there with Nellie (Robert Nelson).”
DB Tashaun Gipson (thigh) was limited on the injury report, but DL Billy Winn (quad) and WR Rodney Smith (hamstring) did not practice. The three were on a stationary bike at the beginning of practice.
DL Ahtyba Rubin practiced and is on pace to play this week.
“We’re hopeful to get Rubin back,” Pettine said Wednesday.
Gilbert Improving: Last week, rookie CB Justin Gilbert had to play more than he had in recent weeks with injuries to CB Joe Haden and CB K’Waun Williams.
Pettine said Gilbert is getting better each week.
“Yeah, we’re looking for improvement, but we weren’t looking for him to walk in here and be a Pro Bowler right away,” Pettine said. “I think that’s very unrealistic when you look at the history of the league and the number of guys that have come in and played at a high level at corner right from the beginning. There’s not that many. He’s on the learning curve where pretty much figured he would be, and he’s getting better. He’s practicing better, which is helpful, but there’s a lot to learn. We ask a lot of our corner, but we’re more than optimistic that he’s going to be the player that we believe that he would be when we drafted him.”
Mingo Limited: Pettine shed a little light on LB Barkevious Mingo’s shoulder injury that he suffered early in the season. He admitted that Mingo is wearing a shoulder harness that limits his mobility in the arm.
“He played better (against the Steelers), but to his credit he has to play with a harness,” he said. “His mobility is limited with that arm a little.”
Pettine said one play, in particular, QB Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t get his read as Mingo came around the corner
“Ming wasn’t able to get the sack, but that’s a good example of somebody causing production as opposed to getting (a sack).”
Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said Mingo is going to have to continue to play through it.
“When you get injured early in the season in football, it’s not going away,” he said. “It’s something you have to learn to play with and manage it. With what we’re asking him to do, he’s getting it done.”
Mingo is playing a lot on special teams and doing a good job.
“He’s really good on (special teams),” Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said. “He’s a guy that has taken special teams seriously since he’s been here.”
“It was definitely out of necessity, but from a technique standpoint we weren’t asking him to play anything he hadn’t played at his position,” Pettine said. “They were just different calls. He had played outside shade of the tackle often as an outside linebacker in certain defenses, but in base defense we knew that he would have to play for us some there.
“We knew that when he was in there that we were limited to a certain amount of calls. So, (defensive coordinator) Jimmy (O’Neil) was really working off of two call sheets, knowing whether Jabaal was in there at – we call it our ‘big end’ position.”
“He’s getting a lot of opportunities,” he’s a guy that has had some production. I know the easy way to judge a pass rusher is by just sack numbers, but we like the big picture.”
“He knows he can be better.”