Cleveland sports fans readily point out the lack of good luck and fortune their teams seem to have.
As if on schedule, the bad breaks are already mounting for the Cleveland Browns, even with a few weeks to go before the start of the NFL regular season.
On Friday, the team played its first preseason contest, which came versus the Jacksonville Jaguars – and it promptly lost starting center Nick Harris to a right knee injury, likely for the entire season.
The injury forced rookie center Dawson Deaton to move up to second-string duty right away, but alas, he had to be carted off the practice field on Monday because of a torn ACL.
Deaton will be out for the entire season, and the prospects for what seemed like a hopeful season for the Browns are significantly fading.
An MRI confirmed #Browns C Dawson Deaton suffered a torn ACL in practice today, sources say. After Cleveland lost starter Nick Harris the other day, another player at the position goes down. Ethan Pocic and Brock Hoffman still standing, though.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 16, 2022
The Browns’ Offensive Line Is Starting To Look Shaky
Last season, Cleveland had one of the best offensive lines in pro football.
In Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller, it had a pair of Pro Bowl guards, and in the case of Bitonio, one who was named to the All-Pro First-Team as well.
Jack Conklin was an All-Pro First-Team selection in 2020, but he played in just seven contests last year, and his return was thought to give the Browns a fearsome offensive line.
But now, with not one but two centers out for the year, they could have a serious hole there.
That hole will be even more glaring when quarterback Deshaun Watson serves his suspension, whether it remains at six games or is extended.
Jacoby Brissett, the team’s QB2, will need some good, consistent protection from his lineman, as he has had a tendency to get sacked throughout his career.
Some are now wondering if the Browns may give J.C. Tretter another chance.
He was their starter center for the past five years, but he remains an unsigned free agent as of now.
There is speculation no one has picked him up because he has had the chutzpah to speak out on the issue of player safety, and Bitonio is one player who has wondered about that out loud.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 14, 2022
“When you have a guy that’s top-five, top-10 at center in the league and he’s not on a roster, you know, and he’s the NFLPA president and maybe some of the owners don’t appreciate what he brings to the table on certain topics when he’s trying to protect player safety and things of that nature, it seems a little suspicious to me,” Bitonio said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “But, again, I don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. I don’t know what his conversations have been with teams and stuff, but just from an outside perspective usually players that are close to the top of their game get picked up. Teams want to win in this league. So it’s an interesting topic, for sure.”
Tretter is only 31 years of age, and bringing him back would certainly act as a huge band-aid for the Browns.
But at least for now, they may have to simply make do with Ethan Pocic, whom they signed as a free agent in April, starting at center.
The Browns Are Starting To Resemble A Walking M*A*S*H* Unit
Dawson and Harris aren’t exactly the only key Browns players who are dealing with injuries right now.
Wide receiver Jakeem Grant suffered an Achilles injury just days ago and is expected to miss the season.
In addition, cornerback Greg Newsome II hasn’t been cleared to practice because of a hamstring issue.
Earlier, Denzel Ward and wideouts David Bell, Anthony Schwartz and Amari Cooper had to miss time with minor injuries.
If a team has to have a rash of injuries, this is the time to have it, but there is also the chance it is simply a harbinger of things to come.