Browns offensive linemen Joel Bitonio, Cameron Erving and John Greco met with the media after Wednesday's training camp practice, and our own Hayden Grove was there. Here's what the trio of linemen had to say:
OL Joel Bitonio
On what he’s capable of in his second year with the team:
"As a rookie, I think it was a really solid year for me. I got lucky playing next to [OL] Joe Madsen and (OL) Alex Mack is back now. I think for me in Year 2, it is just the little details. I know the offense now. Pass game is a little new, but it's still the same concepts. Now, it's just getting better with the details, every little step. [Offensive line] Coach [Andy] Moeller has really been on me this camp about perfecting technique and perfecting things. Last year he was like, 'Oh that's a good block' but maybe it wasn't the perfect technique. Now, it's like be perfect so you can be better out on the field."
On if it is more difficult to play several positions like OL Cameron Erving whereas he started immediately a LG:
"Definitely different aspects. I got lucky. [former Browns offensive coordinator Kyle] Shanahan just said, 'You're going to play left guard and we're going to see what happens.' I went in there like alright, let's play left guard, I learned that. For Cam, it's making him more versatile so if something does happen he's going to be able to play everywhere and it's going to help our line with depth. It's definitely, I think, a little more difficult for him. If you went from left guard to right guard or something like that, it might be a little bit easier, but going from right guard to left tackle, it's definitely tougher but it's going to help him in the long run."
On OL Alex Mack being back on the field:
"I think it took him a couple days to get going, but now, he seems like the same old Alex. He's battling out there. He's calling out all the plays. He's getting us aligned, getting us set up. He's doing a really good job. It's going to be interesting to see how much they let him go in the preseason, but I think he's ready to go."
On if Mack helps the other linemen feel more comfortable:
"Speaking for myself, he makes me feel really comfortable out there. I feel like we have a good connection. I know (OL) John (Greco) and Mitchell Schwartz love playing with him and Joe Thomas, obviously know what he's doing but Alex helps out, too. It's just a continuity thing. I think we're very, very good and we'll continue to improve on that.”
On how the running game can improve with continuity this year in a similar system:
"I think it's everybody kind of working together, if we can stay healthy. We have a little bit more depth on the line now. It's good and the running backs, it takes time. It's like all 11 guys in this offense, if we run the ball, receivers have to block, quarterbacks have to keep their fakes. For us to be in the same running system another year, it really helps in that improvement. I think if we do our jobs and we work the way we want to work, the sky's the limit."
On if the RB injuries make it more challenging to work on technique and continuity:
"In practice, we don’t really go live all the time so it’s hard to tell exactly what's happening when we’re cutting back side and doing things like that where it's going to open different lanes up. For the O-line and tight ends, we're kind of working with each other right now and when we place the running back in for like preseason games and things like that I think that'll be better. I think right now, get the injuries out of the way so week one we're ready to go."
OL Cameron Erving:
On if he more comfortable at any one positon:
"I am just out there trying to play football every day, regardless of what position I am playing. Each rep I just go out there and try to master my craft each rep I am out there."
On it would be better to focus on one position:
"No, I feel like the coaches are in a great position because we have a great offensive line, guys who played together last year. I am coming in trying to create a little competition on the offensive line. I am learning at the same time. I am learning from these guys who have had experience and who have played. They are in a great position as far as personnel wise. There is no pressure either way, but there is always competition."
On studying multiple positions:
"As an offensive lineman, you just study football. Being an offensive lineman, the techniques are the same, but it is just a different position on the line. Of course, you have to do things different as a guard or a tackle a little bit, but you have to know what is going on as a whole to really understand the game. That is what I am trying to get a grasp of, the whole offense and defensive recognition and the little things that professionals do that I didn't do in college."
On what he didn't do in college that he needs to do now:
"Defensive recognition. Anticipating what is coming by knowing the formations and knowing the defense and things like that. I feel like I have a pretty good hold on it, but the older guys are really teaching me a lot and I am learning from those guys."
On if games will provide even more of a challenge:
"There are levels to everything. Once you master or get a certain hold on one thing, you realize or recognize a certain thing and address it so you can continue to become better. It is never a complacency thing because you always want to get better. If you aren’t getting better, you are getting worse. It is not a problem."
On if learning an entirely new position of RG is challenging enough, let alone learning multiple positions:
"It is definitely different to play guard because I never played guard before I get here, but it is the offensive line. Like I said before, I am going to continue to stick to it. I am an offensive lineman. I love a challenge. I love to go out and play something I have never played before."
On how much his background as a defensive lineman helps him as an offensive lineman:
"Early in my playing days as an offensive lineman, it helped a lot more than it does now. Now, I still understand defensive lineman. They come to the line with two moves in mind. They think ahead and what you give them they get. They play. They play off of you. They have to beat us. We don't have to beat them. I try to go into it with that mindset as far as passing. Running, it is who wants to get the other man off the line of scrimmage."
OL John Greco:
On offensive linemen getting reps in different positions in training camp:
"I think it's good. I think you're going to see more of that as this camp goes on. No matter who's in there, like you said, if you keep seven or eight guys or nine—however many I'm not trying to say that's how many we're keeping—but those backups have to be able to play everywhere. As you saw me, when we were resting (OL) Alex (Mack) in the spring, I was playing left center. That's the thing, last year when guys go down people are shifted so you never know where it is you have to be ready for everyone unfortunately."
On if it is too difficult to play different positions, particularly in players' first camp:
"No. I don't think. I think maybe they're trying to test people mentally and physically. I think it's good because I can't play tackle, I'd be the first to admit that."
On if he is getting reps at C:
"Not yet, I snap a little bit with the quarterbacks. I think we focused on getting all of my work in the spring while we rest Alex, but I think Alex has got to make sure he get his legs back under him and give him the feel for full speed reps."
On QB Josh McCown's comments that the Browns offensive line is among the best he's played with:
"I didn't hear him say that but you telling me he said that means we have to work that much harder to not let him down and back those words up because it's awesome to hear someone say that. There's a lot. We're not about words. Coach Pett (Head Coach Mike Pettine) said we have to put it in to action. This year we've just been staying hungry and focused. Especially in our room, every day we just grind through it. Our coaches, we're critical on ourselves we're hard on ourselves every day. I've said it before: we have such a great group this year, young guys and veterans combined. The young guys are learning from the veterans. These guys have played a lot of snaps, NFL snaps. I think it's great we’re going to have a damn good group, but we have to prove that."
On differences in offensive coordinator John DeFilippo's running plays and last year's offense:
"I think you see a lot of carry over. There's different terminology, but every NFL team runs these plays. We might not, it might not be a focal point of ours and we might complement it with other things, but it's pretty nice knowing we majored in that last year, and this year we spent maybe less time teaching that. It was like OK, these guys know what they're doing; we can focus on other areas. We looked at some things we did well last year in the zone and a lot of things we need to improve on. I think that's been our focus, what we need to improve on."