The Cleveland Browns took a significant loss on the offensive line Tuesday. Starting guard Eric Steinbach will be out for the season with a disc injury in his back. He will be placed on injured reserve.
Here are some thoughts on the loss:
More than anything, this hurt Cleveland's running game. Steinbach was the team's best pulling offensive lineman. He also was agile enough to get in open space for screens and sweeps. Running back Peyton Hillis also had a lot of success running off the left guard in between tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack.
Finding Steinbach's replacement won't be easy. The Browns claimed Oniel Cousins off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens. Despite struggling mightily in Baltimore, he is a candidate to start in Cleveland. The Browns also have free-agent John Greco and rookie Jason Pinkston on the roster. Either way, Cleveland is taking a significant downgrade with Steinbach out.
The Browns hope they can hide the left guard between Thomas and Mack. Cleveland will be strong at left tackle and center but pretty weak in between. Expect a lot of teams to attack the Browns with blitzes and stunts on that side early to see if Cleveland can handle it.