Shon Coleman has been the leading candidate to replace Joe Thomas at left tackle, but what happens if he struggles during the preseason games?
The hope for the Cleveland Browns was that training camp would help sort out the left tackle starting competition. But after almost a week of training camp, there seems to be more questions than there was before.
Entering training camp, it was going to be a three-man competition for the left tackle starting job: Shon Coleman, Greg Robinson, and Austin Corbett. Robinson was playing with the second-team offense at left tackle. But after suffering a concussion in the first couple of practices and his presence in the concussion protocol, it may be hard for him to come back and win the job.
Coleman has received praise from his coaches for how well he is “fighting” during camp. He has been going up against stiff competition, primarily having to block Myles Garrett. With how talented Garrett is, of course Coleman is going to get beat a lot.
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The real time to see how well Coleman is performing will be during the preseason. Going up against someone that is not his teammate and being put into game scenarios will show how well Coleman is actually blocking.
With how much uncertainty there is surrounding this competition, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Coleman play more instead of being pulled with the first-team offense during the preseason games. If the coaches feel they did not see enough reps for Coleman, they could play him longer into games to get a true feel for how he is performing.
But what happens if Coleman struggles throughout the entire preseason? The Browns do not have a lot of options, especially if Robinson stays in the concussion protocol longer than expected. If Coleman has trouble in the preseason and Robinson is not healthy, the only real threat for the job would be Corbett.
Corbett has seen work with the third-team offense all the way up to playing with the first-team offense during training camp. Most of his time has been spent as the second-team left guard, and then getting reps at left tackle with the third-team offense.
But after Robinson suffered the concussion, the Browns moved Corbett over to left tackle with the second-team offense. On Monday, Corbett even received reps with the starting offense.
The Browns continue to experiment with Corbett during the early practices of training camp. But it would be surprising that the Browns would use the 33rd overall pick for a backup interior linemen when there is a massive hole at tackle.
The biggest concerns regarding Corbett is that he does not have the best length and does not have the agility to move with edge rushers. The Browns are going to need to feel comfortable with those potential limitations if they decide to move him to tackle.
If the Browns were going to play Corbett at tackle, they were going to make him earn the starting job no matter what. But him playing as the third-team left tackle showed that they had some reservations about what he can do at tackle. But Corbett getting first-team reps is a huge sign of progress for the rookie.
Just like Coleman, the best chance the coaches will see how Corbett plays at tackle will be during the preseason. A strong preseason at tackle will be Corbett’s best chance at getting significant playing time this season. Even if he does with the starting job, Corbett will need to get a lot of reps with the starting linemen in order to build a good chemistry.
Coleman will have a lot of pressure to play well during the preseason. From the sounds of camp, he has not shown enough for the coaches to feel completely comfortable with him as the starting tackle. A bad preseason could force the Browns’ hand and make Corbett the starting left tackle.