It was good to see center Cameron Erving return to the lineup on Sunday, especially once the news broke that left guard Joel Bitonio was down with a foot injury.
Then the game started and Erving reminded everyone that he still has so much work to do.
While Pro Football Focus ranked Joe Thomas, John Greco and Austin Pasztor as three of the five highest-graded players on offense following the game against the Titans, the same cannot be said of Erving, who earned a grade of 37.0 and is ranked dead last among the league’s 34 centers.
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“He probably had not played that many snaps since the last time we played Baltimore to be honest with you. It was a tough spot for him to be in, but I thought he battled,” Jackson said on Monday. “There are some things he is going to clean up and needs to clean up as continue to move forward, but here is a guy that had not practiced a lot of football or played a lot this season because he has been out lately.
“He hit the ground running against a good defensive front. Some things we have to get better at. He has to get better at over this week of practice, but I think going in there and battling and fighting put him right back in that frame of mind what it is going to be like as he moves throughout the rest of the season.”
Jackson is right that it couldn’t have been easy for Erving to step into the lineup after missing three games. On the other hand, Austin Reiter didn’t have much practice time before he started against the Washington Redskins and looked fine.
Because of the season-ending injuries to Bitonio and Reiter, and the slow development of rookies Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman, the Browns don’t have much of a choice other than to keep Erving at center for the rest of the season and hope for the best.
But if he continues to have days like the one he had against the Titans, it wouldn’t be surprising if a position change is in Erving’s future come the off-season.