CLEVELAND - Sometimes versatility can be a bad thing for an offensive lineman.
For Browns lineman John Greco, versatility meant that he's always been viewed as a backup. Need someone to plug in at center? John's the guy. A tackle goes down with an injury? John's your man.
It's kind of like the always-a-bridesmaid-never-a-bride syndrome. Just once, some of these linemen must want the spotlight of being a starter.
Greco, now in his sixth NFL season, has finally earned the right to enter training camp expecting to start instead of hoping to fill one of the backup spots. He's been practicing at right and left guard during organized team activities (OTAs) and is penciled in as a starter.
For someone who has started 14 of the 55 games he's appeared in, Greco is enjoying the comfort of knowing his name will be in the lineup.
"Everyone comes in thinking they want to be the guy," said Greco, who graduated from Boardman High School. "That's my mindset right now. I don't want to have any letup. I want to show that I'm able to start wherever they put me."
Greco spent his first three seasons as a backup with the St. Louis Rams. He was traded to the Browns before the start of the 2011 season, having started just three games.
Greco backed up rookie Jason Pinkston and Shaun Lauvao for the Browns in 2011. He moved in as a starter at left guard in week seven of last season after Pinkston was sidelined with a blood clot in a lung
Although Pinkston is back, there aren't any plans to move Greco out of the lineup. Lauvao also appears set at this time.
The question is which side of the line Greco will call home when the season starts.
"As of right now I'm not asking questions," Greco said. "I'm just doing what they're telling us. It's still in the OTA mode. You have to be ready anywhere. That's always my mindset. So if I'm at left, that's where I'll be and if I'm at right the next day. Wherever I'm asked to be."
Working on a fifth head coach in six years isn't conducive to job security. It can also be difficult on productivity because of the change in systems.
"It's always different when you get a whole new staff in," Greco said. "Each coach has a different philosophy and everyone wants to win games and they're going to come in with a different way towards working to get wins. This time of the year it's learning the playbook, getting to know your team, building chemistry and then pick up the physicality part of it in camp."
The experiment of working both sides will undoubtedly continue into training camp. Right guards are often stronger at run blocking, while left guards need to be better pass protectors because they usually align to the quarterback's blind side.
Greco doesn't see a huge difference.
"It all depends of where we want to attack during the game plan," Greco said. "One game we might be able to attack the defense that has a weakness that's heavy on the right side and one day it might be the left. Wherever you're getting positive yards, that's what you're going to stick with."
However things play out in camp, Greco should feel good knowing that he's a big part of the plan.
"Versatility is always good, but you want to get to the point where you're good enough where someone sees you valuable at one position," Greco said. "You're the starter at this position."
INJURY UPDATE: Running back Trent Richardson sat out Thursday's practice with a lower-leg injury. That's not a good start for a player that had two surgical knee procedures and two cracked ribs last year.
Coach Rob Chudzinski said Richardson might sit out the minicamp in two weeks.