Lauvao could make return on Sunday
CLEVELAND – The Browns offensive line might have a new member back in place Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Shawn Lauvao has been getting practice time with the first team and could return as the starter on the right side. Oniel Cousins started the first three games while Lauvao recovered from a sprained ankle that happened early in training camp.
“I’m not trying to rush back or anything,” Lauvao said Thursday. “I’m just trying to be mindful of it and listen to what the coaches tell me to do.”
Lauvao admittedly doesn’t feel totally ready to line up against a strong Bengals defensive front.
“Honestly I feel kind of rusty,” Lauvao said. “I’ve been out of the game for a little while. If anything, I think you have to keep working at it and keep getting better.”
The line came under heavy criticism after allowing 11 combined sacks in the first two games. The situation improved last week as the Vikings registered three sacks of quarterback Brian Hoyer.
Lauvao’s return could help the cause. It also helps having a quarterback like Hoyer that makes quick decisions.
“He (Hoyer) does a good job of getting the ball out, but the guys (up front) did play better,” coach Rob Chudzinski said.
BIG FAN: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has plenty of admiration for Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson.
“Every year guys are playing I don’t know how many defensive schemes, but the one thing that’s consistent is how great D’Qwell plays,” Lewis said. “He’s fun to watch on tape. He’s probably one of the more unheralded, great players in the league. You have to be over in this division and watch him week in and week out to know how good of a player he is.”
STEPPING UP: Rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo will likely get a start against the Bengals. Jabaal Sheard has an injured knee and will probably miss the game.
Mingo missed the first game recovering from a bruised lung. He played the next two games and had a sack in each of the two.
“I tell my coaches I don’t need to know who’s in the game,” defensive coordinator Ray Horton said. “Sometimes they’ll say ‘so and so is in the game; don’t call this or that.’ I don’t need to know as I call the game.”
PULLING AWAY: A win for the Bengals would give them a six-game lead in the “Battle of Ohio” series (43-37), which would tie for the largest margin since the inception of the rivalry in 1970. The Bengals also had a six-game margin (42-36) with a win at home in September of last year.
INJURY REPORT: Quarterback Brandon Weeden (thumb) and kicker Billy Cundiff (thigh) were on stationary bikes. Not able to practice were linebacker Quentin Groves (ankle), Sheard and defensive lineman Billy Winn (quadriceps). Cousins (chest) and Lauvao were limited.
Cornerback Leon Hall (hamstring), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring), safety Reggie Nelson (hamstring) and guard Mike Pollack (knee) didn’t practice for the Bengals.