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Browns taking risk with offensive line

Among the many interesting decisions the Cleveland Browns made in the final roster cuts was to completely revamp the offensive line's backups.

During the final cuts, the Browns pretty much gutted the backups -- releasing Reid Fragel, Garrett Gilkey, Donald Hawkins, Alex Parsons, Abasi Salimu and Martin Wallace.

They have since signed two extra linemen -- Ryan Seymour at guard and Vinston Painter at tackle. Those two and free-agent signee Paul McQuistan are the backups, but McQuistan has not practiced all week with an ankle injury. Seymour spent 14 weeks on Seattle’s practice squad last season after being drafted in the seventh round out of Vanderbilt. Painter was drafted by Denver in 2013 in the sixth round out of Virginia Tech. He has no NFL experience.

The backup linemen did not exactly distinguish themselves with their play this preseason, but coach Mike Pettine admits that the notion of two inexperienced backups facing Pittsburgh makes him a little antsy.

“That’s part of coaching,” Pettine said. “Especially early in the year.”

If the Browns have no offensive line injury issue, all will be fine. The Browns starting five is talented and should be able to function in the new zone blocking scheme. But if there’s an injury, and McQuistan can’t play, the Browns would be turning to someone they signed less than a week earlier.

“That’s why coaches get paid,” Pettine said. “Bring in an offensive lineman on a Monday and say you have to have him ready for Sunday.”

He said it might mean the new player wears a wristband, or that he has a “thinking buddy” next to him who helps him with calls and plays. But Pettine also admitted that playing guys with limited time might mean cutting back on the playbook or adjusting what the offense does.

“That’s just something we’re tasked to do,” Pettine said.