On Sunday, Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie told reporters that moving left guard Joel Bitonio to left tackle would be “Plan Z”.
Well when practice resumed on Wednesday afternoon, Browns head coach Hue Jackson apparently has moved to that plan.
For the majority of practice, Bitonio lined up at left tackle on the first-team offensive line with rookie Austin Corbett taking the spot at left guard.
Shon Coleman who was getting the majority of the first-team reps during the first five practices of training camp along with the practices during the spring still got some reps with the first-team offense but the plan according to Jackson moving forward is to have Bitonio as the left tackle.
Corbett, who was also a tackle in college much like Bitonio did at the University of Nevada will be the starting left guard and transition into that position much like Bitonio did four years ago when he was a second round pick of the Browns much like Corbett was this past April.
Jackson told reporters following practice that he’s going with who he thinks are the best five offensive lineman as the starters and that having Bitonio as left tackle gives them that but also said that the team will continue to explore options.
Bitonio started 39 consecutive games and was an All-Mountain West Conference selection as a left tackle. When the Browns drafted him 35th overall in the 2014 draft, the team had Joe Thomas as a left tackle and some scouts said Bitonio would be better suited as a guard in the NFL due to his smaller arm length.
Since being with the Browns, he’s been one of the best offensive guards in the league but has had some injury issues which shut down his seasons in 2015 and 2016, missing a total of 17 games. Despite that, the team gave him a five-year extension worth $51.2 million dollars.
He admitted that he’s reluctant about the move because “you’re always scared of the unknown” but stated that he wants to help the team win at the end of the day and will do whatever Jackson thinks is best for the team.
His former teammate Joe Thomas will be back in town next week and Bitonio said he called him to ask for some pointers and would send him film to get some feedback from the future Hall of Famer.
I like the fact that this quickly into camp, Jackson and the staff has realized that Coleman isn’t working and want to go in another direction before the team’s first preseason game next Thursday.
Sliding Bitonio over and adding Corbett to the lineup does put the five best lineman on the starting unit and gives Bitonio, Corbett along with J.C. Tretter, Kevin Zeitler and Chris Hubbard a month to build their chemistry before the regular season opener against Pittsburgh.
If the team chooses to look at other options, Greg Robinson and Desmond Harrison are the other tackles on the roster but are both currently sidelined with injuries.
Robinson has not performed since being drafted 2nd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft and is already on his third NFL team. Harrison is an undrafted rookie and will be fighting for a roster spot.