Ryan Tucker isn't about to tell anyone that the Browns offensive line is in mid-season form.
Not after the showing last weekend in Rochester, when the line struggled against Buffalo's front seven in a scrimmage. The Browns finished the scrimmage with more rushing yards, but most came in the latter stages when the first units were done for the day.
"I'd like to say we kicked their ---," Tucker said. "We did some good things, and we did some bad things. We didn't play perfect the whole time. I know we're going to be better this week because of the preparation. People forget how important that is. If you don't know what you're doing, you can't play."
The line is one of the most-watched position areas as coach Butch Davis enters his second year with the team. Without improvement from the group, quarterback Tim Couch will likely struggle to make the next step in a progression that is starting to wear thin on fans.
Tucker, who left St. Louis last March to sign with the Browns, is set on the right side. Ross Verba, who started last season at left guard, has moved to left tackle, and the first-team guards - Barry Stokes on the left and Shaun O'Hara on the right - are new to their assignments. The only player slated to start at the same spot as last season is center Dave Wohlabaugh.
Something had to be done to ignite the offense. The Browns were last in total offense (259.5 yards a game) and rushing offense (84.4 a game) in 2001.
"The bottom line is that everyone of us has to know everything," Tucker said. "Whether it's 3-4 or over-under, 'Bear,' whether they blitz four-weak, four-strong or up the middle. Whatever. We have to know what to do on every play, and that's where we're at right now.
Tucker was the Rams' fourth-round draft choice in 1997 out of TCU. He moved into the lineup at right tackle in 2000 and started every game the last two seasons except one.
Tucker is now moving from the Rams' high-powered attack to an offense that's in the growing stages. He's accustomed to blocking for a ground game that features Marshall Faulk and a passing game that's fueled by the throws of Kurt Warner.
The Browns are nowhere close to the Rams' level of offensive play. Growing pains were evident against the Bills, who use a 3-4 base defense. The Browns will face several teams that use that look this season, including two games against Pittsburgh and two against Baltimore.
"Me being in the NFC, I faced 3-4s maybe three times in five years," Tucker said. "Here we'll face a little bit of everything. It was good that we saw that early on. Now everyone expects the house thrown at us."
Davis knows he has to be patient with progress made by the line in general and Tucker in particular. Once Tucker feels at home, he's expected to give the right side a strong run-blocking presence that wasn't there last year when Roger Chanoine was the starter at tackle.
"I'm sure he was in tune to everything they were doing there (in St. Louis)," Davis said. "All the line calls and all the fundamentals. Schematically, they're a little different. They're probably a little more three and four receiver than we are.
What Davis likes about Tucker at this stage is the tackle's approach to the game.
"His professionalism has been a positive in our meeting rooms and our locker room. He knows how to win. He was on a Super Bowl team. That was a very positive addition. The toughness that he brings to our offensive line will be a big benefit."