December 20, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
29°F
test

Browns’ Shaffer, Tucker toeing the line in new roles

BEREA — The quarterback situation continues to dominate headlines and discussion.
Did Charlie Frye do enough Saturday night to earn the opening-day start? What’s wrong with Derek Anderson? How quickly can Brady Quinn get ready?
But for a pair of right tackles, old and new, the man under center is an afterthought.
“Honestly, it really doesn’t matter,” said Kevin Shaffer, the new right tackle. “We block for whoever’s back there. We don’t really know who’s back there all the time. We don’t really care all the time. We just do our job.”
“It’s a great battle right now,” said Ryan Tucker, the old right tackle. “Whoever’s back there, we have to execute.
“Hopefully we’ll get this thing settled.”
Tucker and Shaffer have other things on their mind. It would be an understatement to say they’ve had an interesting camp.
Tucker, the pre-camp favorite to start at right tackle in his sixth year with the Browns, was suspended for the first four games of the regular season after testing positive for steroids. He can practice and play during the preseason, but vacated the starting tackle job and worked at right guard Saturday night in the 16-12 win over the Chiefs.
Tucker said it had been seven years since he played guard.
“It was fun. It took me a few series to relax and realize I was playing right guard,” he said after the game. “Once I did that, I played well.”
Tucker’s suspension opened the door for Shaffer to move to the right side. Shaffer needed some time before crossing the threshold.
“Oh, yeah. It took me a couple weeks,” he said of accepting the move. “But the big thing is that I didn’t know what the deal was. Finally once they kinda told me — they came up right before the scrimmage (Aug. 3) and said you’re playing right tackle now — I just kinda had a peace about it.
“I kinda felt OK about it. I finally know what’s going on. It is what it is. I gotta go out and do what I gotta do.”
Shaffer’s reluctance was born from spending four years at left tackle, the premier position on the line. He signed a seven-year, $36 million contract in 2006, but struggled in his first season in Cleveland. His performance led general manager Phil Savage to use the third pick in the draft on Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas.
Shaffer didn’t want to admit it, but the script had been written. Thomas would become the left tackle, and Shaffer would have to adjust.
“I think he’s a great player,” Shaffer said. “It’s something they decided upstairs. I don’t know how they came to it. It is what it is and it was how it was. That’s how I took it.
“I don’t know why or who or how or anything, but that’s what they did.”
Shaffer might have been trade bait, but Tucker was suspended. Instead of being a backup at both tackle spots, Shaffer took over on the right side.
“I feel pretty good about how I’ve come along,” he said. “It’s been one decent week now that I’ve been a right tackle. I feel I still need another week or two to feel comfortable.”
But Shaffer was impressed by his first game action.
“I was kinda surprised how comfortable I was out there,” he said. “I think it’s all because of my attitude.
“I’m going to try my best and see what happens. That’s all you can do.”
Tucker has taken the same attitude.
“All I know is they asked me to play right guard and I’m doing it,” he said. “I’m happy to be out there, period.
“I didn’t play perfect. I have a long way to go until I’m a solid right guard.”
Not everything revolves around the quarterback.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7136 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.