Ryan Tucker is taking his return to the Browns one day at a time. So far, so good. He is trying to reassure his teammates that what happened last season will not happen again by working hard in the weight room and through constant attendance in the offseason training program.
"I have to get the respect of my teammates back," Tucker said. "There are a few guys I'll talk to. It's not something I need to do. I just have to come out on the field, be a leader and do what I'm supposed to do.
"I'm a little rusty right now. I'm in great shape. I feel good. I'm just happy to be back."
Tucker does not want to discuss publicly exactly what happened last year. He missed the game against Oakland and the one against Carolina Oct. 1 and Oct. 8. He returned, started the next six games, and then at halftime of the Cincinnati game Nov. 26 could not take it anymore and left. Kelly Butler and then Nat Dorsey after Butler broke a foot finished the season at right tackle. It was not good for the Browns.
The Browns announced Tucker had a mental disorder, but they did not describe it.
"I come to work every day and it's fun," Tucker said. "It's not a grind like it was before. It's a blessing to be out here. It's phenomenal."
Tucker said the offensive line is better than it has ever been since he signed with the Browns in 2002. General manager Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel made a point of rebuilding the line as soon as they were hired in 2005. In 2006 they signed center LeCharles Bentley and left tackle Kevin Shaffer. Bentley might never play again, but the effort has to be admired. This year they signed Eric Steinbach in free agency and selected left tackle Joe Thomas with the third pick in the draft.
"You look across and it can be phenomenal," Tucker said. "The depth is there. Somebody is going to go down. You don't want it to happen, but somebody is going to take a break one or two snaps.
"Everything is there. I know the fans are jacked up. The buzz is everybody is excited. I know we are. We're not going to lose this year. We might lose one or two. We're definitely going to have a winning season. That's the attitude of this whole team."