BEREA — Guards Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao and left tackle Joe Thomas were among the last players on the turf Monday inside the fieldhouse. After many of their teammates had retreated to the locker room following a two-hour practice, they ran sprints, sweat dripping from their faces on a humid day.
Not to be outdone, center Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz went outside to run in the rain.
The offensive linemen weren’t satisfied with their performance Friday night against the Eagles and are committed to making the necessary adjustments. But they don’t agree with those who think they can’t compete with the Eagles’ dynamic pass rushers.
“I think we’re going to be ready for Week 1,” Pinkston said. “So we’re not going to buy into everyone’s, ‘Oh, no, here we go.’ That’s not a concern in our room at all.”
The line will get a shot at redemption against the Eagles in the regular-season opener Sept. 9 and believes the solution lies within.
“Granted, they’re good players, but I think a lot of breakdown stuff was on our side of the ball,” Schwartz said. “Not using the right footwork, not taking the right set, not doing the right thing, but it’s all stuff that’s correctable for us.
“Obviously you never want to get the quarterback hit, but when it’s something you can control, it’s something you can clean up and prevent in the future. I don’t think we were overmatched or anything like that.”
The Browns allowed five sacks to the Eagles and several other pressures. The performance left the impression on some that Cleveland can’t handle the Eagles’ pass rush that tied for the league lead in 2011 with 50 sacks.
“As a group we didn’t do our best, but some of the outside people they don’t really know what’s going on on the offense,” Pinkston said. “They don’t know what plays are called or what protection’s supposed to happen or what goes on in a certain play.
“We know what’s going on in the building, so we don’t worry about what they say on the outside.”
Philadelphia lines up its ends in a wide-9 technique. They are well outside of the offensive tackles, giving them an angle into the backfield and making it difficult for the tackle to block the path. The quicker the end the harder he is to slow down, and the Eagles are loaded with quickness.
“Anytime you get an athlete and you give him more space, it’s going to be more to his advantage,” Thomas said.
“I’m really not too worried about that,” Pinkston said. “I’m playing next to one of the best left tackles in the NFL.”
The Eagles are deep at end. Starters Jason Babin and Trent Cole are backed up by Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Phillip Hunt and Vinny Curry.
“They’re good players and it would be unfair to say it’s schematically based,” said Schwartz, who’s struggled against speed rushers.
The Browns believe the outcome upfront will be different for three reasons: They’ve seen the Eagles up close, will scheme to limit their effectiveness and will eliminate their own mistakes.
“We’re going to have the benefit of game-planning and custom-tailoring our offense to how we want to attack their defense,” Thomas said. “I expect a much better performance.”
“Absolutely. The things that were out there was more our fault than some of the things they did to us,” said Pinkston, who disputed the false start and holding penalties called against him Friday.
The Browns are relying on the line to stabilize an offense that has undergone drastic change with a rookie quarterback, a rookie running back and two rookie receivers projected to play key roles. Besides Schwartz, a second-round pick, the line returns four starters — all of whom started every game in 2011.
“I’m very confident our offensive line will be one of the strengths of our team, very confident,” coach Pat Shurmur said.
If he’s right, the line could lead the team for the next decade. Thomas, in his sixth season, is the veteran of the bunch. Mack is in his fourth season, Lauvao his third and Pinkston his second.
“Generally speaking, as the offensive line goes, the offense goes. We’re kind of the tone-setters,” Thomas said. “I think we have a really solid offensive line all across the group.”
With something to prove when the season starts.