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Browns' Chudzinski has long to-do list

The SportsXchange

BEREA, Ohio -- Coach Rob Chudzinski was more than ready to go back to work on Sunday, one day after the Cleveland Browns were crushed, 27-6, by the Indianapolis Colts in their third preseason game.

The Browns won their first two summer games by beating the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions.

Brandon Weeden completed 72 percent of his passes in the first two games, but he was 12 of 25 against the Colts and that included a hot start in which he completed each of his first six passes.

"I want to make sure we put this in perspective," Chudzinski said Sunday afternoon. "This was a preseason game. It was a real good learning opportunity for us playing against a really good team. It was a good chance for us to evaluate our personnel going forward. The things we can address are correctable.

"We had some protection breakdowns and (Weeden) got hit a couple times when he was getting rid of the ball. They covered well and there were a number of times guys weren't open. We did have some missed opportunities. He can play better and he has and we can continue to help him."

Chudzinski is also trying to sift through injury situations at right guard and right outside linebacker.

Already down two guards because of ankle injuries to Shawl Lauvao and Jason Pinkston, the Browns traded backup defensive end Brian Sanford to the Seattle Seahawks last week for guard/center John Moffitt. The Browns voided the trade, however, when Moffitt failed his physical with the Browns.

Barring another trade, the decision on which player to start against the Miami Dolphins in the opener Sept. 8 comes down to rookie Garrett Gilkey or Oniel Cousins, a veteran in his sixth season with five career starts and only one at right guard.

Chudzinski started Cousins against the Colts, but by the third series Gilkey was with the starters. For now Cousins seems to have the edge. Pinkston and Lauvao might miss two or three games of the regular season. The Browns are in no rush to trade for another guard.

"I've been comforted by Oniel's performance in the game and Gilkey's development," Chudzinski said. "Oniel has just not played the position very much. In the number of days he has the opportunity to do it, he's done well."

Cousins missed the early part of training camp with a sprained ankle.

The situation at right outside linebacker isn't quite as dire. Starter Jabaal Sheard sat out the game in Indianapolis because of a sore knee but will return to practice Monday. He could have played had it been a regular season game and, barring another setback, should be ready to play the Dolphins. He might play briefly Thursday in Chicago in the final preseason game.

The real concern is for rookie Barkevious Mingo. He has not practiced since suffering a bruised lung on the opening kickoff against the Lions on Aug. 15. He says he feels fine, but doctors are being very cautious because Mingo spat blood on the sideline in the Detroit game. He spent two nights in the hospital.

With Sheard and Mingo out of action, six-year veteran Quentin Groves was able to step in and start against the Colts. He is more than capable of backing up Sheard if Mingo isn't cleared to play the opener.

Sheard is the power rusher. Mingo is slippery and quick. Groves is not as strong or as big as Sheard and he isn't as fast as Mingo, so he relies on other skills to do his job. He has the added the benefit of having played for defensive coordinator Ray Horton in Arizona last year.

"People tend to forget at Oakland I was a stand up inside 4-3 linebacker," Groves said. "Not to say (Sheard and Mingo) don't, but I can dissect things because I know how offenses try to attack defenses.

"Not to say Jabaal and KeKe aren't, but I'm a student of the game. Being in the league six years, I've seen pretty much everything an offense can do. That's how our styles are different. Jabaal is a great physical player. Mingo is a fast, fast, fast player. They let their natural ability take over. I have to beat a guy to a spot rather than go through a guy or run around him to the spot."

Groves had one tackle against the Colts.

--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.
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