Starting offensive left tackle Barry Stokes is nursing a high-ankle sprain that could be yet another factor to haunt a struggling Browns offense. Sporting a brace on his ankle, Stokes will be limited at best this week in practice, but he expects to play Sunday.
If Stokes cannot play, right-tackle Ryan Tucker would slide over into Stokes' left tackle position and second-year lineman Joaquin Gonzalez would start at right tackle. As we noted here at Bernies Insiders noted prior to the regular season opener, the Browns believe that this is the best option to fill an immediate need.
"Right now, I would say that it is 50-50 at best that Stokes can go on Sunday. He is experiencing range of motion loss in the ankle, but the condition is improving," a team source said today. "Barry (Stokes) is a tough-guy and he will do everything possible to play on Sunday, I wouldn't be surprised if he is out there."
"We expect the final determination will be a game-time decision, but we are preparing to head into the game without Barry (Stokes) being available."
In shifting the offensive line in the loss of Stokes, the Browns may be limited in preparation for a 49ers defense that has become increasingly aggressive under new head coach Dennis Erickson.
"San Francisco poses some problems for us, especially at a time like this where we have some issues along the offensive line," the source said. "They are quick off the ball at the defensive end spots, if we are forced to make changes along the line, we could face some breakdown issues in communication and responsibilities."
"Our main area of concern would be in pass protection, we'll see how it plays out this week, but we are confident in the guys that we have here, it isn't like we haven't practiced with players in other roles."