BEREA — Browns fans may have to find something new to complain about this year.
The offensive line, the perennial punching bag for angry talk show callers since the team’s return in 1999, is projected as a strength this year. Coach Romeo Crennel points to the line as a reason for optimism, and its elder statesman is almost giddy.
“It’s awesome. It really is,” right tackle Ryan Tucker, in his sixth year with the Browns, said Tuesday. “The guys are playing well together. They’re good athletes and they’re physical. You can’t ask for anymore than that.”
The key to the turnaround is a new left side. Eric Steinbach (6-foot-6, 295 pounds) was signed from Cincinnati to play left guard, and Joe Thomas (6-6, 315) was drafted No. 3 to play left tackle. Their size is obvious, and their athleticism has been just as evident in the early days of camp.
Steinbach gives the Browns the ability to pull in the running game, something missing in the last couple of years when sore-kneed Joe Andruzzi and Cosey Coleman manned the guard spots.
Jason Miller / Chronicle
Cleveland Browns rookie tackle Joe Thomas is one of the keys for turning the offensive line from a liability into a team strength.