Welcome back Billy Yates. Last night the Browns waived one of their many linebackers, Titus Brown, and we had to wait until this morning to find out the corresponding roster move. The Browns brought back offensive guard Billy Yates just a couple days after he was let go on the same day as David Veikune. That eventually led to the news that Browns rookie offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao (you know the guy who played impressively against Ndamukong Suh?) twisted his ankle and wouldn’t be practicing Thursday. Lauvao was a sight for sore eyes this pre-season after Floyd Womack missed so much time due to recovery from an off-season knee procedure. Womack was a sight for sore eyes a season ago because of John St. Clair. Injuries happen in the NFL, but you just wonder if the Browns will ever feel comfortable with the right side of the offensive line.
I am not ready to hit a panic button because the Browns felt the need to re-sign Billy Yates. I am still encouraged by the prospect of having Tony Pashos taking over at right tackle. Womack, while having been injured most of this pre-season, did nicely a season ago in helping improve the right side of the offensive line along with Alex Mack. Still, it is slightly disconcerting to go into the season knowing that a player like Lauvao who is supposed to keep your quarterback upright and your running back running north-south is struggling with one of his ankles even before the first game. We are talking about a guy who is listed at 6’2″ and 315 pounds. How quickly and how substantially his ankle heals is anyone’s guess.
Except the Browns don’t have to guess. They have a medical team and a full training staff along with full knowledge of their player and what he is telling them. Given all that information at their disposal, the Browns felt the need to cut loose Titus Brown to sign an insurance policy named Billy Yates. All this just days until the Browns open the season against Tampa Bay.
The Browns did well to try and improve their offensive line this off-season. As Mike Holmgren has stated on multiple occasions, you can’t fix everything at once. Still, with all the promising news there are risks. Right guard is filled with injury risk right now. Tony Pashos looks like an upgrade at right tackle, but he came to the Browns partially because of a history with injuries. On top of that, the much maligned John St. Clair is still just a play away from being tossed into the action.
We will have a full preview for the game on WFNY tomorrow, but let me let you in on a little secret. My key to the season is the offensive line. The Browns will need to play their style of football. They will need to be able to run the ball and control the clock. Time of possession and the turnover battle will be a key to victory in every game for the Browns. These two things are inextricably tied to the offensive line opening holes and giving the QB time. Let’s hope the Browns can reset these dominoes before any more fall.