The Browns will be without a starter along the offensive line for an extended stretch. Head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed that center Ethan Pocic will miss multiple weeks as a result of a knee injury. The team has since announced that he will be placed on IR.
Pocic had played every snap so far this season before going down during the first drive of Cleveland’s loss to the Bills on Sunday. Along the way, the 27-year-old established himself as a vital member of the Browns’ offensive front, one which has paved the way for the fifth-ranked rushing attack in the league this season.
Individually, Pocic has enjoyed by far the best season of his career in terms of PFF rating. His overall grade of 83.0 is a new personal mark, up from the 67.3 he registered last season in Seattle. The LSU alum has also yet to commit a penalty across 630 snaps.
Pocic signed in Cleveland this offseason to provide experienced depth at the position, one which saw plenty of turnover for the Browns. Veteran J.C. Tretter was released in a cost-cutting move, which opened the door to Nick Harris taking on the starting role. He suffered a major knee injury during the preseason, however, forcing Pocic into the first-team spot.
While the loss of the latter will certainly be felt by the Browns given his effectiveness (particularly in the run game), the team still has its top option available at every other o-line position (tackles Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin, along with guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller). Stefanski said veteran Hjalte Froholdt will slide over from right guard to center to fill in for Pocic moving forward, as he did on Sunday. Cleveland is signing veteran Greg Mancz with the roster spot opened up by Pocic’s IR placement.
Sitting at 3-7 on the year, the Browns will test out their new combination up front against the Buccaneers in Week 12 before, in all likelihood, seeing quarterback Deshaun Watson suit up for the first time this season the following week.