Browns dealing with injuries along the offensive line
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns are dealing with injuries to a pair of starting offensive linemen as they prepare for Sunday’s game with the Houston Texans.
The Cleveland Browns – and quarterback Kevin Hogan in particular — looked to be catching a break on Sunday as the Houston Texans will be without defensive standouts J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.
But that news has been tempered a bit by the latest injury report for the game as the Browns list both starting center J.C. Tretter and starting right tackle Shon Coleman as questionable with knee injuries.
Both players missed practice during the week and were limited today, according to clevelandbrowns.com, which is not a good sign for Hogan, who will be making his first NFL start on Sunday.
Related: The quiet emergence of Shon Coleman
Head coach Hue Jackson is staying upbeat about the possibility that both Tretter and Coleman will play, but just because they start the game doesn’t mean they will finish it. If they can’t go, or if something happens during the game, Spencer Drango will take over for Coleman while Austin Reiter is the backup to Tretter at center.
It will be interesting to see what the Texans do to try and take advantage of Tretter and Coleman possibly being limited. Houston hasn’t been very strong against the pass through the season’s first five games as they are 23rd in the league by allowing a passer rating of 97.5.
The Texans do like to blitz, however, and having a pair of wounded offensive linemen would appear to be a green light to bring the heat. But that could play right into the Browns hands as Hogan has had success when facing pressure, according to Pro Football Focus:
"It’s far too early to make any sweeping conclusions about a quarterback with only 116 career snaps, but in limited action this season Hogan has been excellent against the blitz. Only Alex Smith and Drew Brees have a higher passer rating when facing extra rushers than Hogan’s 131.7 mark. The bulk of that success came after stepping in for Kizer last week against the Jets, when he went 8-of-10 for 115 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll get plenty of opportunity to reproduce those efforts this week against a Texans defense that has blitzed opposing passers on 41.6 percent of snaps, the second-highest rate in the league."
The injuries to the offensive line come just as the defensive is getting healthy.
A week after the Browns welcomed defensive end Myles Garrett back to the field, linebacker Jamie Collins has been a full participant in practice this week. That means the Browns will have their full starting defense on the field for the first time in the regular season.
They will need it as the Texans will enter the game averaging 28.8 points per game, the fourth-highest average in the league, as rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson has thrown for 12 touchdowns and rushed for two more as he treat’s NFL defenses the same way he did college defenses at Clemson.
Next: DPD Podcast: Preparing for Kevin Hogan's debut
The only other players the Browns listed on the injury report are linebacker James Burgess, who is doubtful with a knee injury, and wide receiver Kenny Britt, who is questionable with a knee and groin injury.