Rookie Garrett Gilkey, a seventh-round draft pick from Division II Chadron State, is the starting right guard.
At least for now.
Starter Shawn Lauvao is out for the start of the regular season following ankle surgery, and replacement Jason Pinkston is expected to be sidelined for the early part of the season after suffering a high ankle sprain Thursday night during the win over the Lions. Normal recovery time is four-to-six weeks.
That leaves Gilkey, who filled in for Pinkston and played three series with the starters. He switched to left guard for part of the second half.
“I was pleased with what he did last night for coming into the situation he had to come in, against the guy he had to face,” coach Rob Chudzinski said Friday on a conference call. “It was quite the challenge for him. He’s not Joe DeLamielleure yet but he has made big improvements over the course of the time that he’s been here.”
The Browns don’t have many other options on the roster. Veteran right tackle Oniel Cousins, backup center Jarrod Shaw and undrafted rookie Caylin Hauptmann are possibilities, but signing a free agent seems more likely. Chudzinski said there are no plans to add a veteran, but that could change when roster cuts across the league start late this month.
The biggest names available now are longtime veteran starters Cooper Carlisle, Bobbie Williams and Brian Waters.
“We will see. I’m not expecting right now to bring anyone in,” Chudzinski said. “We will just have to see where we are at with some of these other guys injury-wise and how soon we are expecting them back. We’ll sit down and talk a little bit more about that.”
Gilkey played with the second team in the preseason opener against the Rams, but had never experienced anything like his head-to-head battle with former first-round draft pick Ndamukong Suh, a tackle for the Lions. They don’t make them like Suh in Division II.
“That was my first time going against that competition level,” Gilkey said after the game. “Suh’s a great competitor. He’s a great athlete, and it was good to go against him and to gain that experience. He’s doing nothing but making me better, which is making this team better.”
Gilkey didn’t seem overwhelmed by being thrust into the lineup.
“I knew that I had a game to play later,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to be so soon. But as soon as (offensive line) Coach (George) Warhop looked at me and told me to go in, I felt very confident. I felt very ready to go.
“I think I got done what I needed to get done. It was definitely a jump but I’m happy with how I did today. I definitely have a lot of things I need to work and get better at.”
Gilkey spent all of the organized team activities at right guard but had switched to left guard for the majority of training camp. He played left tackle at Chadron State and had never appeared in a game at right guard at any level.
WEEDEN WAITING GAME
Chudzinski praised quarterback Brandon Weeden’s performance against the Lions but again declined to name him the starter for the regular season.
“To me, this process is important, that we go through that, and when we complete the process, we will name a starter,” Chudzinski said. “He had a really good overall performance. We had three scoring drives with him, a number of good throws.
“He did in the first game as well, but he really had some nice throws. The rush was coming a little bit more this week, so that was good for him to experience that.”
Weeden went 8-for-12 for 117 yards, two touchdowns and a 137.8 rating against the Lions.
A MAN NAMED SUH
Suh welcomed Browns running back Trent Richardson to the preseason with a sideline hit that knocked Richardson off his feet. It came after Richardson took a pitch left and picked up 9 yards.
“The hit was not as hard as everybody thought that it was,” Richardson said. “He caught me from behind, but I bounced right back up. I did not even know he hit me that hard until I saw it on the film.
“That was my first time getting hit by him. But you have a guy like that chasing you from behind, I did not even see him, he came out of nowhere.”
Detroit defensive lineman C.J. Mosley, a former Brown, had a different opinion.
“It was an awesome play,” he said. “I didn’t know what hit him. I thought a bullet popped or something.”
Suh has the reputation of being a dirty player and was later penalized 15 yards for a late hit on Weeden. Chudzinski said he wasn’t worried about Richardson after the hit.
“It’s part of the game and Trent has shown to be pretty durable and pretty physical,” Chudzinski said.
Richardson rushed six times for 33 yards, a 5.5 average, in his first preseason game. He missed last year as a rookie following knee surgery.
“The first two runs, we had to just get the timing right and see where we’re at,” he said. “Then after that, we just got it going.”
Chudzinski liked what he saw from his featured back.
“He came out of it healthy,” Chudzinski said. “He showed his physicality, got in there and mixed it up a little bit.”
CAMPBELL GOOD, TOO
Weeden wasn’t the only Browns quarterback to post a gaudy passer rating.
Backup Jason Campbell was 12-for-14 for 106 yards, a touchdown and a 122.0 rating. He was sacked twice for 10 yards and scrambled once for 9.
He capped a 10-play, 70-yard touchdown drive – his only scoring possession in about a quarter and a half — with a 14-yard pass to running back Brandon Jackson.
Campbell, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, is 18-for-21 for 143 yards, a touchdown and a 110.9 rating through two games.
BIG NIGHT CUT SHORT
Tightness in his groin didn’t allow rookie kicker Brandon Bogotay to finish the game, but he had a good start.
Bogotay made a 43-yard field goal and two extra points. His first two kickoffs went through the end zone for touchbacks and the third was 9 yards deep in the end zone and returned to the 17. His fourth only flew to the 13-yard line when he hit too high on the ball.
He then felt tightness as he kicked into a net on the sideline and was replaced in the second half by Shayne Graham. They’re in a tight competition and Bogotay was scheduled to do all the kicking vs. the Lions.
Bogotay expects to kick next Saturday in Indianapolis.
“I better be ready for the next game,” he said late Thursday night. “It’s nothing severe or anything.”
Chudzinski said he’s day-to-day.
The Browns didn’t turn over the ball for the second straight game.
** Rookie defensive end Armonty Bryant, a seventh-round pick, sacked Lions quarterback Thaddeus Lewis with a quick burst off the line.
** Chudzinski wasn’t pleased with the six penalties for 49 yards. The yardage doesn’t include the 82-yard punt return for a touchdown by Travis Benjamin called back by Joe Haden’s holding penalty.
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