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Cuz gets start at RG


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Oniel Cousins has played one NFL regular-season game at guard.

Right now, that qualifies as seasoned experience for the Browns, who are searching for help at the right-guard position with ankle injuries sidelining Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston.

Coach Rob Chudzinski announced today the club will start the 29-year-old Cousins against the Indianapolis Colts in a preseason game on Saturday. Rookie Garrett Gilkey, who filled in admirably off the bench for Pinkson against Detroit last week, is also expected to see time with the first unit, the coach said. Many of the starters will play into the third quarter in the dress rehearsal game.

Cousins, a reserve offensive lineman, is entering his sixth NFL season, but said his only game at guard came as a member of the Baltimore Ravens in 2009 as he started in place of injured Marshal Yanda. He downplayed the switch from right tackle to guard.

“It ain’t much difference,” said Cousins, who has been getting some practice reps at guard. “You might be going against a bigger guy with a little more mass, not as fast. Our coaches teach us to know everything just in case we have to adjust. It’ll be a great challenge and I’m looking forward to it and I’m real thankful.”

The Browns attempted to trade for a right guard this week, acquiring John Moffitt from Seattle for defensive end Brian Sanford, but the deal was voided over health concerns regarding Moffitt. The Denver Broncos dealt for Moffitt not long after the Browns walked away from the trade.

The team is likely to add another guard as Pinkston and Lauvao are expected to miss time in the regular season. Although Cousins (6-foot-4, 315 pounds) has played almost exclusively at tackle, he’s a veteran of 44 NFL games with the Ravens and Browns.

“Oniel has more experience,” Chudzinski said of a lineman who’s missed part of camp with an ankle injury. “Obviously, he has been back in practice and has done well. Gilkey will get opportunities as well with the first group. We will just see how the game goes and try to get them a lot of reps.”

The rookie from Division II Chadron State earned praise for holding his own against the Lions’ Ndamukong Suh – the Browns scored 17 points with Gilkey working on the first unit – but the club is clearly concerned about his lack of seasoning at the pro level and position. The converted college tackle never played in a football game at right guard until last week.

Gilkey said he’s focused on improving his technique.

Meanwhile, Cousins sees Saturday as a major opportunity in a journeyman’s career. He was reminded how John Greco seized his chance a year ago and blossomed into a starter.

“John went in and did a great job and I’m happy for him and proud of him,” Cousins said. “Now it’s my time to go out there and do my best and show what I can do.”


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Browns notebook: Oniel Cousins favored to open regular season as starting right guard

By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer

Published: August 27, 2013 - 06:30 PM | Updated: August 28, 2013 - 09:37 AM

Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Oniel Cousins (left) blocks linebacker Barkevious Mingo during training camp at the team's facility in Berea, July 26. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

BEREA: Offensive lineman Oniel Cousins has spent the vast majority of his five NFL seasons serving as a backup right tackle, but now he’s favored to start at right guard for the Browns when they host the Miami Dolphins in the regular-season opener Sept. 8.

“He has the edge right now,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Tuesday before practice. “I’ve been pleased with how quickly he’s made the transition. It’s not been perfect by any means, and he’s still working and still needs to continue to work. But it’s been relatively smooth.”

Cousins realizes his game needs to be polished. He’ll get another trial run Thursday night when the Browns visit the Chicago Bears in the preseason finale.

Chudzinski said he’ll play at least some of his starters for a brief time against the Bears, but he will wait until Wednesday to reveal whether starting quarterback Brandon Weeden will be one of them. Chud­zinski didn’t outline plans for any of the other starters, except revealing that wide receiver Josh Gordon will “play some.” Gordon will begin the regular season by serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

“Generally, the guys who are with the ones would get 10-12 reps,” Chudzinski said. “But there’s a number of situations still that need to play out in terms of specifics of who’s going to play and those types of things.”

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Cousins is glad Chudzinski has expressed faith in him, and he’s expecting to play Thursday. He is determined to make the most of his tune-up against the Bears.

“It’s always a good thing if the head coach is pleased,” Cousins said. “I personally think I still got a lot of work to do. I’m just going to continue to get better as far as technique goes. Alignment, assignment, technique, those are the three main things I’m focusing on, and I’m just going to let it ride. I’m confident, but I still think I’ve got a lot of work to do.

“There are little things I need to tweak up as far as footwork goes. I’ve just got to be a little more precise. Obviously, when you’re playing inside, a guy is right on you. You want your footwork to be perfect or somewhat close to perfect, and then you just let it ride. So footwork and hands are the things I’m working on.”

Cousins played in six of the first-team offense’s eight possessions Saturday night during a 27-6 preseason loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Rookie Garrett Gilkey filled in for the other two series.

“I’m excited,” Cousins said. “I just want to make the most of the opportunity and do everything I can to help this team win some games.”

The Browns have been experimenting at right guard in the aftermath of Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston suffering high-ankle sprains that will keep them sidelined for the early stages of the regular season.

Last week, the Browns traded defensive end Brian Sanford to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for guard John Moffitt. But the Browns voided the trade because they had concerns about the health of Moffitt, who underwent knee surgery two years ago and elbow surgery last summer.

The new coaching staff did not use Cousins at right guard in a preseason game until Saturday. He has started five regular-season games during his career, including one at guard for the Baltimore Ravens.

Chudzinski said he’s more comfortable with the team’s situation at right guard than he was last week when the organization made a move for Moffitt.

“I feel better about the situation and Oniel — what he’s done and what he’s shown,” Chudzinski said. “We just have to keep working. I think we do have a couple different options, and that’s the thing you always want to have is some options. Oniel moving from tackle to guard was one of the things that we had discussed. As it came time, that was the thing that became the forefront that we needed to do. We weren’t sure how it would all work out, but it seems like it’s gone as well as we could’ve expected.”

Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas thinks Cousins can hold down the fort.

“I think it’s nice to have a guy like Oniel because he’s got NFL starts under his belt,” Thomas said. “Even though we lost two right guards, a lot of times when you go three deep most times, you are getting into a guy that has no experience. So having Oniel there is very helpful because he has NFL starts, playing time experience, he’s versatile in that he can play tackle or guard, and he’s a big, physical guy who can help us.”

Signs of progress

Chudzinski said the Browns do not plan on placing rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo on injured reserve and designating him to return after Week 8 of the regular season. Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, has not practiced or played since suffering a bruised lung Aug. 15 against the Detroit Lions.

But Mingo ran Tuesday, a team spokesman said. He worked out on a stationary bike during the portion of practice open to reporters.

“Actually, he’s doing better, and he continues to be monitored,” Chud­zinski said.

Is the Sept. 8 season opener a realistic target date for Mingo’s return?

“We have no timetable,” Chudzinski said. “We just have to see how he progresses and how he heals. It’s really just an individual thing. It’s from individual to individual on how quickly they heal.”

Injury updates

Backup quarterback Jason Campbell sat out practice Tuesday with an unspecified illness, and wide receiver Davone Bess sat out to rest his knee, a team spokesman said. Both players practiced Monday. Bess sat out practice last week with tendinitis in his knee.

Starting tight end Jordan Cameron was held out of team drills Tuesday with a strained groin. A groin injury also forced Cameron to miss part of organized team activities in May.

“He’s got a slight groin [strain],” Chudzinski said. “I don’t anticipate any issues with it.”

Chudzinski said cornerback Chris Owens shouldn’t be sidelined much longer with the strained foot arch that has been bothering him for the past few weeks.

“I think he’s a day-to-day,” Chud­zinski said. “I wouldn’t expect him to be very long at all. I think Chris has done it enough and played enough from an experience standpoint that I don’t have any concerns with him [missing some time in the preseason]. I know this morning he felt great. So we’ll get him back here in practice pretty quickly.”

Chudzinski said starting right defensive end Desmond Bryant is getting closer to returning to practice. He has missed time the past couple of weeks while dealing with back spasms.

“He’s progressing as well, and I don’t anticipate any issues with Desmond, either,” Chudzinski said.

In addition to Mingo, Owens and Bryant, kicker Brandon Bogotay (groin) and wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt (hamstring) worked out on the side with a trainer Tuesday during the period of practice open to reporters.

Legal updates

Wide receivers Greg Little and Josh Gordon appeared in Cleveland Municipal Court on Tuesday morning. Little pleaded not guilty to three traffic violations, and Gordon pleaded not guilty to two speeding violations.

Little was charged May 28 with parking illegally, driving a vehicle that was not registered and using dealer license plates that were not issued for the vehicle.

Gordon was charged Aug. 13 with driving 98 mph in a 60 mph zone and charged May 10 with driving 45 mph in a 25 mph zone.

Little has a pretrial hearing set for 9 a.m. Sept. 10, and Gordon has a minor misdemeanor trial scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 10.

Little is also scheduled to appear in Berea Municipal Court on Sept. 4 because he was ticketed for driving 81 mph in a 60 mph zone last week in Strongsville.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog athttp://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebookwww.facebook.com/browns.abj.

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at this point i'd take a tackling dummy over lauvao and pinkston.


we can never seem to keep the Oline intact from start to finish. and for all that ghoulie wants to downplay the importance of Olinemen protection from that side is just as important as from weed's blind side. he get's nervous when he sees a DE breakthrough and either throws it away or throws it to his dump off back which is usually read by the opponent's CB and ends in a pick six.


time to start building robots.

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at this point i'd take a tackling dummy over lauvao and pinkston.


we can never seem to keep the Oline intact from start to finish. and for all that ghoulie wants to downplay the importance of Olinemen protection from that side is just as important as from weed's blind side. he get's nervous when he sees a DE breakthrough and either throws it away or throws it to his dump off back which is usually read by the opponent's CB and ends in a pick six.


time to start building robots.

OK, but if and when Lauvao and Pinkston are healthy and ready to come back to action ONeil will likely become.....wait for it.....a first Cousin once removed. Badumpbump. I'm here all week.

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Cousin might be a better guard than tackle. He's not super nimble. I have a feeling he'll be more or less about as good as Pinkston. We'll be in the market for a serious RG next year... but we're not talking about a quarterback, left tackle, pass rusher, or lockdown corner here. We're talking about a guard.


Check out some of the UDFAs and grocery baggers who have started and done well at guard for playoff teams. Or just look at Gilkey doing just fine against the Lions. When they become sore thumbs, it's usually because they REALLY suck, like epically, or they're horrible system fits.


Good teams plug guys in and out of the line on a weekly basis. The Packers have started guys currently selling insurance in Milwaukee. I think Cousins will do just fine.


My bigger concerns: Can one of the other corners give us decent play with Mingo missing the first week, downgrading our sub packages? Will Desmond Bryant be healthy to give us some pass rush along with Kruger and Sheard? How long can we keep Billy Winn out of a starting lineup, period? Should he be starting opposite Bryant, as much as I love Tube?


On passing downs, do we get Winn, Bryant, Sheard, AND Kruger on the field? I would.


Can our WRs get open? Can Weeds handle some heat from Cam Wake and/or Dion Jordan? Pressure's starting to feel like his Achilles heel.

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