Injuries are already disrupting the Cleveland Browns‘ offensive line this season.
Bill Callahan scrambled to find able bodies in 2021, with inexperienced or out-of-position players filling in week-to-week.
And Cleveland is already looking for option B at center after Nick Harris went down on just the second play of the 2022 preseason.
Harris is believed to need season-ending knee surgery.
#Browns Kevin Stefanski said Nick Harris' knee injury will likely require surgery. Declined to say if the Browns have had any discussions about bringing anyone else in saying that's an Andrew Berry decision. He praised Ethan Pocic for the job he did coming in last night.
— Ashley Bastock (@AshleyBastock42) August 13, 2022
Ethan Pocic handled most of the snaps after Harris’ injury.
But Callahan showed he had other options to think about during the course of the game.
And fans immediately chimed in on social media with their most popular remedy.
Here are 3 options for the Browns to replace Nick Harris this season.
The Heir Apparent: Ethan Pocic
When the Browns released J.C. Tretter in March, it was widely expected that the center job belonged to Harris.
Harris brought significant mobility and speed that could stretch Cleveland’s running attack even wider than last year.
But Andrew Berry wasted no time signing the youngest of the experienced free agent centers in Ethan Pocic.
Pocic enters his 6th NFL campaign off a season in which he started 10 games for the Seahawks.
As the cart comes out for #Browns C Nick Harris, Deshaun Watson takes some practice snaps from Ethan Pocic. pic.twitter.com/EPk7lTPx21
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) August 12, 2022
The 320-pound former second-round draft pick ranked #15 among centers according to PFF’s measurements.
That put him behind the 6th-ranked Tretter, but it still makes Pocic a worthy option for the Browns.
But head coach Kevin Stefanski acknowledges Pocic is a different type of center than the speedy Harris.
And that might require some adjustments to the game plan.
The Popular Choice: J.C. Tretter
One of the bigger surprises in free agency is the continued availability of J.C. Tretter.
Consistently ranked as one of the best overall players available, he is far and away the best center option.
Tretter’s durability and consistency are not matched by many.
But other than short-lived rumors of interest from Minnesota, he’s gone unnoticed by the NFL.
#Browns Joel Bitonio said he has spoken to JC Tretter since the Nick Harris injury but said Tretter was just concerned about Harris and sending his well wishes
— Matt Fontana (@MattFontana83) August 14, 2022
Whether there is some bias or conflict involving his status as NFLPA president is unclear.
Nobody can argue he would be a tremendous asset to several teams, assuming he remains interested.
Tretter has a head start in understanding Bill Callahan’s preferences and lexicon.
And an offense led by Jacoby Brissett might be closer to last season’s design than one formulated for Deshaun Watson.
Surprise Entrant: Some Guy Named…
There are a handful of free agent centers still on the market, most landing in either the over-30 or career backup status.
And there is nobody guaranteed to be better than the player already in hand, Ethan Pocic.
But flexibility along the offensive line is not just desired.
It’s something Callahan and the Browns strive for, which could create a surprise contender from within.
I think the #Browns are going to stand pat at the C position with Ethan Pocic & Dawson Deaton heading into week 1. Hjalte Froholdt also has experience at C in college, and has been taking practice reps there consistently. He got snaps there last night as well, and was proficient.
— Matt Wilson (@CoachWilson66) August 13, 2022
Guard Hjalte Froholdt played center in college and took some snaps in front of the quarterback Friday.
And besides playing guard, tackle, and tight end last year, Blake Hance practiced at center in the 2021 preseason.
Neither of the Browns’ rookie centers is expected to be NFL-ready in time for the 2022 season.
But Callahan still might find a viable backup for his starter Pocic from among the players already in Berea.
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