Browns O-line 'in trouble'

The Cleveland Browns' offensive line will play its first game together -- ever -- Sunday, and the Steelers think that's no way to go into a season opener.

PITTSBURGH – Suppose, just for a minute, that you had an offensive line that opened the season this way:

Left tackle – rookie.

Left guard – first week with new team after rehabbing injured knee.

Center – fill-in for expensive and injured free-agent acquisition.

Right guard – first regular-season game with new team.

Right tackle – moved from left tackle this season and is questionable with a concussion.

What would you say, Kendall Simmons, about the chances of such a line coming into the opener?

"You're in trouble, to be honest with you," said Simmons. "That's the way I see it."

Simmons, of course, plays right guard for the Steelers. He was asked about the hypothetical situation that's become a reality for the Cleveland Browns.

From left to right, the Browns expect – hope – to line up Sunday with Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach, Hank Fraley, Seth McKinney and Kevin Shaffer.

It's an improvement – on paper. But even then, the group hasn't played together this preseason.

Steinbach, the big-ticket free-agent left guard from Cincinnati, is just coming back from an Aug. 7 knee spring. Shaffer, the team's former left tackle, replaced the league-suspended Rex Tucker at right tackle. Fraley is replacing LeCharles Bentley for a second season. McKinney, the rock at right guard, missed all of last season with a neck injury while with the Miami Dolphins.

"How long have they had off?" Simmons asked.

Oh, about the entire preseason.

"I hope they did a lot of reps together because when you haven't been playing with somebody it makes a world of difference," Simmons said. "It's not like being out there as a receiver. It's just my opinion. It's hard to put five guys on the spot like that."

Romeo Crennel said this week that the only player he believes to be questionable for the game is Shaffer, who suffered a concussion Aug. 25.

"The chemistry is now where, ideally, you would like it to be," Crennel said of the situation this week. "But I think these guys like each other. They get along. They know they can depend on each other, so I think they are going to be a good group for us."

Maybe some day. But if the best that can be said about your offensive linemen is that "they get along," it could be a long game for Charlie Frye, Jamal Lewis and the Browns' offense.

Of course, last year the Browns' offensive line was intact for nine games, and four of the five linemen played in five other games. Even with that cohesion, the Browns were 30th in sacks allowed, 30th in points scored, 31st in rushing, and 31st in total offense.

Perhaps cohesion is overrated. Simmons isn't buying it.

"You've got to have more than a week of practice," he said. "It's fine maybe if you've got four guys at camp and one guy missing a little time, but when you've got all those guys missing and you haven't worked together, that's trouble. When that fur starts flying and you don't know how the other guy's going to react, then it makes you hesitant. It makes a big difference."


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\r\n \r\nPITTSBURGH – Suppose, just for a minute, that you had an offensive line that opened the season this way:

\r\n\r\nLeft tackle – rookie.

\r\n\r\nLeft guard – first week with new team after rehabbing injured knee.

\r\n\r\nCenter – fill-in for expensive and injured free-agent acquisition.

\r\n\r\nRight guard – first regular-season game with new team.

\r\n\r\nRight tackle – moved from left tackle this season and is questionable with a concussion.

\r\n\r\nWhat would you say, Kendall Simmons, about the chances of such a line coming into the opener?

\r\n\r\n\"You're in trouble, to be honest with you,\" said Simmons. \"That's the way I see it.\"

\r\n\r\nSimmons, of course, plays right guard for the Steelers. He was asked about the hypothetical situation that's become a reality for the Cleveland Browns.

\r\n\r\nFrom left to right, the Browns expect – hope – to line up Sunday with Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach, Hank Fraley, Seth McKinney and Kevin Shaffer.

\r\n\r\nIt's an improvement – on paper. But even then, the group hasn't played together this preseason.

\r\n\r\nSteinbach, the big-ticket free-agent left guard from Cincinnati, is just coming back from an Aug. 7 knee spring. Shaffer, the team's former left tackle, replaced the league-suspended Rex Tucker at right tackle. Fraley is replacing LeCharles Bentley for a second season. McKinney, the rock at right guard, missed all of last season with a neck injury while with the Miami Dolphins.

\r\n\r\n\"How long have they had off?\" Simmons asked.

\r\n\r\nOh, about the entire preseason.

\r\n\r\n\"I hope they did a lot of reps together because when you haven't been playing with somebody it makes a world of difference,\" Simmons said. \"It's not like being out there as a receiver. It's just my opinion. It's hard to put five guys on the spot like that.\"

\r\n\r\nRomeo Crennel said this week that the only player he believes to be questionable for the game is Shaffer, who suffered a concussion Aug. 25.

\r\n\r\n\"The chemistry is now where, ideally, you would like it to be,\" Crennel said of the situation this week. \"But I think these guys like each other. They get along. They know they can depend on each other, so I think they are going to be a good group for us.\"

\r\n\r\nMaybe some day. But if the best that can be said about your offensive linemen is that \"they get along,\" it could be a long game for Charlie Frye, Jamal Lewis and the Browns' offense.

\r\n\r\nOf course, last year the Browns' offensive line was intact for nine games, and four of the five linemen played in five other games. Even with that cohesion, the Browns were 30th in sacks allowed, 30th in points scored, 31st in rushing, and 31st in total offense.

\r\n\r\nPerhaps cohesion is overrated. Simmons isn't buying it.

\r\n\r\n\"You've got to have more than a week of practice,\" he said. \"It's fine maybe if you've got four guys at camp and one guy missing a little time, but when you've got all those guys missing and you haven't worked together, that's trouble. When that fur starts flying and you don't know how the other guy's going to react, then it makes you hesitant. It makes a big difference.\"

","mobileBody":" PITTSBURGH – Suppose, just for a minute, that you had an offensive line that opened the season this way:

Left tackle – rookie.

Left guard – first week with new team after rehabbing injured knee.

Center – fill-in for expensive and injured free-agent acquisition.

Right guard – first regular-season game with new team.

Right tackle – moved from left tackle this season and is questionable with a concussion.

What would you say, Kendall Simmons, about the chances of such a line coming into the opener?

\"You're in trouble, to be honest with you,\" said Simmons. \"That's the way I see it.\"

Simmons, of course, plays right guard for the Steelers. He was asked about the hypothetical situation that's become a reality for the Cleveland Browns.

From left to right, the Browns expect – hope – to line up Sunday with Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach, Hank Fraley, Seth McKinney and Kevin Shaffer.

It's an improvement – on paper. But even then, the group hasn't played together this preseason.

Steinbach, the big-ticket free-agent left guard from Cincinnati, is just coming back from an Aug. 7 knee spring. Shaffer, the team's former left tackle, replaced the league-suspended Rex Tucker at right tackle. Fraley is replacing LeCharles Bentley for a second season. McKinney, the rock at right guard, missed all of last season with a neck injury while with the Miami Dolphins.

\"How long have they had off?\" Simmons asked.

Oh, about the entire preseason.

\"I hope they did a lot of reps together because when you haven't been playing with somebody it makes a world of difference,\" Simmons said. \"It's not like being out there as a receiver. It's just my opinion. It's hard to put five guys on the spot like that.\"

Romeo Crennel said this week that the only player he believes to be questionable for the game is Shaffer, who suffered a concussion Aug. 25.

\"The chemistry is now where, ideally, you would like it to be,\" Crennel said of the situation this week. \"But I think these guys like each other. They get along. They know they can depend on each other, so I think they are going to be a good group for us.\"

Maybe some day. But if the best that can be said about your offensive linemen is that \"they get along,\" it could be a long game for Charlie Frye, Jamal Lewis and the Browns' offense.

Of course, last year the Browns' offensive line was intact for nine games, and four of the five linemen played in five other games. Even with that cohesion, the Browns were 30th in sacks allowed, 30th in points scored, 31st in rushing, and 31st in total offense.

Perhaps cohesion is overrated. Simmons isn't buying it.

\"You've got to have more than a week of practice,\" he said. \"It's fine maybe if you've got four guys at camp and one guy missing a little time, but when you've got all those guys missing and you haven't worked together, that's trouble. When that fur starts flying and you don't know how the other guy's going to react, then it makes you hesitant. It makes a big difference.\"

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