Fast Lane Mailbag: Blocking Edition

Lane weighs in on Alex Mack's recovery, Cameron Erving's impact, the fullback position and the blocking scheme in general. Plus more on the draft.

Fast Lane Mailbag

Q: With center Alex Mack returning and the selection of offensive lineman Cameron Erving in the draft, how do you see these two players utilized and will Erving replace John Greco or Mitchell Schwartz? Lou A, Mentor, OH

Fast Lane: Alex Mack has returned from injury and looks ready to go. The Browns eased him into the OTA process, but the Pro-Bowl center stated he felt good and ready.

The Browns and Mack enter a rather precarious time for the team and player. Mack can opt-out of his contract following the 2015 season and Erving is viewed as a very viable replacement in the event he does.

If on the roster and not injured, Mack will be the starting center and rightfully so. Mack is an all-pro caliber player and losing him a season ago helped in derailing the Browns offense.

Erving will compete on the right-side of the line in training camp. Taking reps at every line position in the OTA sessions, the Browns are looking for the versatile lineman to compete and push both Greco and Schwartz.

There has been plenty of talk within the organization that the right-guard spot is the likeliest landing spot for Erving, though it may not be as a starter. The Browns coaching staff likes Greco and believes he played well in the 2014 season.

I’m not too sure Greco, if any lineman is moved out of the way for Erving. The athleticism of the rookie could push Schwartz out of the starting right tackle spot and Michael Bowie will get reps at right tackle in camp as well.

You never know, as it stands today I could envision Erving playing anywhere from center to right-tackle.

Q: A new offensive coordinator generally brings change to the offensive line scheme and calls. We have heard the offensive line scheme is going to change, but to what degree and how is the transition going? Bernard G, Berea, OH

Fast Lane: The Browns retained the offensive line coaches from the 2014 season. Under new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the Browns intend on utilizing the same type of run blocking scheme. The change will come in the passing game blocking scheme, responsibilities and line-calls.

Missed zone blocking assignments was an issue when the staff reviewed the 2014 season for the offensive line. Some of the mediocre play was attributed to the changes within the line following the Mack injury, other issues noted were responsibility pick-ups, RB blocking errors and timing issues.

We’ll get a much better indication as to what the changes truly are when we get into training camp and see the unit work. According to those within the organization, the unit is progressing and the belief is this offensive line should be one of the best units in the league.

Q: Leading up to and during the draft, the speculation was the Browns were going to go after QB Marcos Mariota, did they make an effort? Additional talk was the Browns were going after QB Bryce Petty but were beaten to the punch, is this true? Philip W, Brooklyn, NY

Fast Lane: The Browns did not make a move on Mariota. The Browns did have dialogue with every team ahead of them in the first round of the draft, but never got specific on Mariota.

The Browns QB coach Kevin O’Connell was familiar with Bryce Petty and from what I was told by an executive, the Browns were not targeting Petty in the draft — they actually liked Garrett Grayson (New Orleans) better.

Q: As the draft approached, we were hearing the Browns had interest in wide receiver Tre McBride, what happened? Ed Z, Maple Hts, OH

Fast Lane: I am told they liked his skill-set, but didn’t believe he was aggressive enough and other personal aspects. The Browns had others rated higher on their board and stayed on that course.

Q: I thought the Browns intended on utilizing a fullback in the new offense. Looking at the roster, they don’t have anyone other than a rookie at fullback, what is the plan? Arnold H, Fort Lauderdale, FLA

Fast Lane: I keep hearing the Browns don’t necessarily have to have a traditional fullback in this scheme, but did draft Malcolm Johnson and like his future potential.

Looking at how they are constructed, I could see them add a fullback later in camp or utilize a tight-end in the blocking scheme, such as E.J. Bibbs that has been getting excellent reviews from the coaching staff.

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