I went back and watched with great interest the match-up between Browns rookie right guard Shawn Lauvao and Detroit rookie Ndamukong Suh. Suh was the second pick in the draft, but widely considered to be the top player available. Lauvao was making his second preseason start, and looked pretty decent in his first effort against the Rams, but wasn’t tested the way Suh would certainly do. What I saw made me smile. Lauvao certainly held his own against the Nebraska uber-pick.
Before you go crazy remembering the face-twisting body slam Suh laid on Jake Delhomme, make sure you check the tape. Suh lined up across from Lauvao, and despite a wicked inside spin move Shawn kept his feet in the proper position and walled Suh. He then had to engage a stunting LB from the opposite side of the line, passing Suh to the inside. Originally I thought Mack should have picked up Suh, but Mack was also engaged. With the stunt the Lions had brought more rushers on the right side than the Browns had blockers. Lauvao, having stopped Suh’s forward momentum reacts and picks up the hard charging stunt keeping him from Delhomme. The line holds for at least 3 seconds, at which time Hillis disengages and becomes the outlet receiver. Jake is forced to step forward in the pocket because of an outside rusher who gets by Joe Thomas as he stumbles. Delhomme steps up right into Suh.
I wouldn’t lay the blame for that hit on Lauvao. He took on two men on the play.
Suh used a variety of moves against Lauvao and Shawn was ready. I thought his footwork was excellent most of the time, and he used his hips well against the bull rush. In the running game he even got movement on the bigger Suh. Watch Hillis’ touchdown run (if you can find it, I couldn’t online) and see the push Lauvao gets against Suh. It was fantastic.
Now Ndamukong Suh isn’t a polished NFL veteran, but he was the best test of the preseason for Lauvao and in my book Shawn graded out to an A- for the effort. based on what I’ve seen the last two weeks I would be more than comfortable giving that starting RG spot to Lauvao. Will he make a few rookie mistakes through the year? Of course, but he seems to have the physical tools and techniques necessary to play the position. If you recorded the game, there was a play in particular in the first half where Lauvao’s helmet came flying off at the line of scrimmage, but that didn’t deter him from sprinting out to make a cut block on a LB in pursuit.
Tony Pashos didn’t have quite the day that Lauvao did, but overall he didn’t play bad either. Like St. Clair, Pashos was victimized by the edge speed rush once or twice, but certainly nothing that I would classify as ‘turnstyle’ worthy. Pashos also got into a few heads on Saturday by blocking until the whistle blew. On a couple occasions I saw Detroit linemen frustrated and taking shots after the whistle at Pashos, who had the sense not to fall for the ploy.
Could this mean a strengthened right side of the line? If Womack is able to return I would feel much better about the depth heading into this season.
Today Eric Mangini said that he intends to send tape of the hit to the league for review, but added that the league probably would have looked into it anyways. QB Seneca Wallace said the hit warranted a suspension. “He already face masked him, then he grabs him by the neck, twists it and throws him down. To me, that’s something you can get suspended for, I think.”