BEREA—Mitchell Schwartz has been one of the Browns under-the-radar offensive lineman.
In the shadows of perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas and two-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, Schwartz is usually not talked about much.
In fact, there was speculation the Browns drafted Cameron Erving in the first round this year to battle Schwartz for the starting right tackle position. However, that quickly was dispelled and Erving primarily spent his time at right guard.
The fourth-year right tackle from Cal has not missed a snap since joining the Browns as the 37th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He has played
3,482 straight plays and started all 54 games since joining the Browns.He was named to the PFWA All-Rookie team in 2012.
Schwartz (6-5 320) has the second-longest consecutive snap streak on the team behind Thomas, who hasn’t missed a snap in his career.
Recently, Pro Football Focus listed Schwartz as the top right tackle in the NFL, despite being criticized at times for his performance.
“Good for Mitch,” Mike Pettine said when told of the honor. “Name a right tackle that doesn’t get targeted. That’s the stigma of being the right tackle. We’re very pleased with Mitch. He’s relentless in his preparation. He does a good job in the meeting room, carries it over to the field. I know from the pecking order of what you would perceive as leaders in that room, you have Joe and Alex, but Mitch is right up there with those guys.”
Schwartz took the news in stride of being placed at the top of the list at his position.
“It’s obviously nice,” Schwartz said. “I think sites like that it’s hard to put a quantifiable grade on things like that. That’s kind of the thing it’s hard to figure out what we’re supposed to do on every play, figure out with so many things go into every play in terms of maybe the back is supposed to be here, you’re expecting one guy to be there, another guy to be there. It’s hard to evaluate stuff, but obviously, I’ll take the positive rating so it’s kind of cool.”
Schwartz was credited for limiting Von Miller to no sacks and just an assisted tackle, but he said it was a collaborative effort.
“Like I said, everyone did their part on him,” he said. “I had some one-on-one matchups that went my way. There were times we had some tight ends helping, some running backs helping, times where you’d rush Joe, times you’d rush (John) Greco, times (Mack would handle him, Joel (Bitonio). It’s never just a one-person thing.”
This week, Schwartz and the Browns offensive line will be facing one of the top defensive fronts in the NFL with Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Chris Long and William Hayes. Schwartz will likely draw the assignment of Long and Hayes.
“They have an extensive blitz package on third down,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s not so much where they overload one side toward the other as much as some other teams. Especially our defense, they could bring eight guys to a side if they want. They’re trying to get their guys in one-on-one match ups. Similar to Denver, doesn’t necessarily blitz as much, but they did something to try to hone in on those outside guys with the inside guys getting one-on-one matchups. I think that’s the key is when you have guys you can rush – Donald, Quinn, Long, Hayes, all those guys they can rush. – you don’t necessarily need to bring as much pressure. You can trust those guys.”
Schwartz is in his final contract year with the Browns. The more publicized lineman that could leave is Mack with the opt-out clause in his contract, but Schwartz’s play could make him an attractive commodity on the open market.
“You just play as well as you can,” he said. “That stuff (contract) is kind of out of my control. That’s not something I really focus on. I just have so much else to worry about week-in and week-out going against such good players. If you do your part on the field, really the rest will take care of itself.”
Pettine said Schwartz is the type of player the team wants to retain.
“Guy is a high producer for us, but behind the scenes, we know whose contracts are up, and that’s not really my place to talk about that, especially in season.”
Haden Out; Gipson Doubtful: After not practicing all week, DB Joe Haden will miss his second-straight game with a concussion, while DB Tashaun Gipson (ankle) is doubtful. Gipson was on the bike Thursday and Friday. Meanwhile LB Craig Robertson (ankle) has a chance to play after practicing Thursday and Friday. TE Rob Housler (hamstring) will likely miss his first game after getting injured in last week’s loss to the Broncos.
"(Robertson's) looked good," Pettine said Friday. "We're taking it slow, but he's ahead of the curve. It's all positive with Craig."
Besides Robertson, LB Tank Carder (shoulder), DL John Hughes (knee), WR Marlon Moore (hamstring) and DL Danny Shelton (knee) are questionable.
Manziel 'Likely' Backup: QB Johnny Manziel will "more than likely" backup QB Josh McCown on Sunday against the Rams. Pettine said the Browns haven't heard from the NFL on the incident was involved in with his girlfriend in Avon a week ago. The Browns have not announced any public discipline for Manziel as of yet and he was active against the Broncos.