As the Browns look to improve in weak areas displayed this past Saturday heading into the Great Lakes Classic in Detroit, the offensive line should at least get a solid boost in productivity with the return of two recently absent parts of the 2010 unit. Both Tony Pashos and Shaun Lauvao are slated to return to the practice field this week, easing the concern of Browns fans and those under center with one fell swoop.
Pashos had missed considerable time since coming aboard due to a shoulder injury while Lauvao has been excused for personal reasons. With the former, there is undoubtedly concern due to a possible reaggrivation of the injury, but the team has been very cautious with all injured players to this point. It would be considerably against the grain for the coaching staff to risk further injury during a preseason contest.
“My expectation is that [Pashos] practices on whatever day it is,” said head coach Eric Mangini on Sunday afternoon. “Not tomorrow, but the next day, and he plays this weekend.”
With regard to Lauvao, Mangini has been understandably quiet about the rookie offensive lineman’s situation. Tending to matters back home in Hawaii, the team hopes that Lauvao will be back in Berea this morning and will also suit up for Saturday’s game against the Lions. Prior to this week, the team has been significantly thin due to the aforementioned injuries coupled with some bumps and bruises suffered by Floyd “Porkchop” Womack and John St. Clair.
This past Saturday against the Rams, Scott Kooistra and Billy Yates saw a great deal of time with the first-string offense.
A third player that will make Browns fans be at a little more ease is rookie running back Montario Hardesty. Twisting his knee on the first day of training camp, Hardesty has seen nary a snap as the team has taken a considerable amount of caution. Having an injury history in college, the Browns could ill-afford to rush back a player who is in line to have a signficant role with the first-team offense.
Though Peyton “Thunder” Hillis is doing his best to ensure that the team will be alright if Hardesty were to miss any regular season time, the former Tennessee Volunteer appears slated to take the practice field later this week, eying an in-game return next Thursday against the Chicago Bears.
“When he’s ready, he goes,” said Mangini. “He’s continued to progress. In terms of practicing, I anticipate him maybe late in the week getting some reps, but it’s subject to change.”
“I would expect [Hardesty] to [be ready for the season opener],” said the Browns head coach. “There’s been no setback. Based on the plan that we had and the progress that he has made, my anticipation is that he will be practicing again in the near future and ideally playing in the opener.”
Mangini stressed that there has not technically been a delay in Hardesty’s return as there was no initial timetable. He also stressed that the emergence of Hillis is not going to impact each player one way or another as the team feels that it can feature both running backs throughout a game. As the running game has been a focus of Eric Mangini offenses in the past, the improved ground attack should only be that much more of a focal point this season – especially within inclimate games as the Browns had this past Saturday.
Mangini has long loved versatility, and with Hardesty, Hillis and the ever-electrice Harrison, fans have the right to hope that this is all just the tip of the iceberg.
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