Browns still working to replace Phil Taylor

BEREA, Ohio -- One of the big holes that the Browns have to fill on defense is at defensive tackle, where Phil Taylor is expected to miss the start of the season after having surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle.

During mandatory minicamp, third-year defensive lineman Scott Paxson has taken the reps in Taylor's spot. But Browns coach Pat Shurmur said rookies John Hughes (third round) and Billy Winn (sixth round) are competing for that starting spot.

"It’s hard to totally evaluate linemen until we put pads on, but they’re doing a nice job," Shurmur said Wednesday in evaluating his rookie linemen. "They look like they got good get-off. They use their hands well. It looks like they will separate from blocks well. They’re doing a good job."

Shurmur shot down the possibility of moving Ahtyba Rubin to Taylor's spot and putting someone like Hughes at nose tackle.

The Browns have expressed confidence that Taylor will return this season. Recovery can take four to six months, depending on the severity of the tear, so Taylor could return sometime in the first half of the regular season.