The Browns appeared to have suffered what might be their most serious injury of training camp to this point when Shawn Lauvao went down with an ankle injury today. The severity of the injury is not known and Chud basically said he will provide an update on the situation tomorrow when they have more information. Certainly, the hope is that Lauvao will be fine and this is not anything that will dramatically impact the season, but it pretty much guarantees he will be out for Thursday’s preseason opener against the Rams. This means that Jason Pinkston will get to start the game at right guard after a remarkable recovery from a blood clot that could have ended his career, if not his life.
John Greco has basically been entrenched as the starting left guard and the position up for grabs is on the right. Pinkston is at a slight disadvantage in terms of power for the right guard spot compared to Lauvao, but he will have an opportunity to make a statement about how well he can play that spot on Thursday between Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz.
Pinkston’s road to recovery from a blood clot in his lung is impressive when considering there was a legitimate concern that his career would be over as a result. After battling for about six months, Pinkston was able to recover and start working himself back into football shape. This was not a situation where he was dealing with an injury and could do other things. As a result of being on blood thinners, he was extremely restricted on what he was able to do and nothing he was able to do could be even close to being considered football activities. In addition to battling the clot, it was basically six months of little to nothing.
While Pinkston would obviously to prefer to beat out Lauvao for the spot as opposed to getting it by default due to injury, the fact he is all but certainly starting on Thursday is notable considering his path to get there. He basically lost an entire year of training and has been working to get back to the level he was before the clot. Assuming he is able to stay healthy this year, this coming year and offseason will allow him to surpass the good level of play he was providing before he was lost for the season.
The Pinkston situation was a tragedy but it did allow for Greco to step up and establish himself as the left guard and a terrific cog on the offensive line. Greco went from depth to the becoming the best lineman of the group in terms of yardage per carry for Trent Richardson. He was the most reliable player getting a push in the running game. As a result, this is another situation that provides an opportunity for someone else; in this case, Pinkston is the obvious beneficiary, but this also means more reps for the guys on the second and third units to get reps and make their case to make the team.
The Browns have been extremely fortunate with injuries to this point, possibly because of prudent planning but certainly with the help of luck. The hope is that Lauvao will be out a couple days or maybe only a few weeks allowing him to be ready to start the season on time, but the Browns do have the depth to absorb a serious loss at that position should that be the case, which is a recent development. Injuries happen, so depth is a huge key in the NFL and one the Browns have dramatically improved even just from last year to this year, so while they do not need to prove it, they can absorb a few losses in spots.