The Cleveland Browns suffered yet another injury on offense and placed starting left guard Joel Bitonio on injured reserve.
Bitonio underwent surgery on his foot Monday to repair his mid-foot sprain. He played through the injury this past Sunday against Tennessee, but it wasn’t possible for him to do so the rest of the season.
Cleveland originally selected Bitonio with the 35th overall selection in the 2014 NFL draft. He started all 16 games and excelled as a rookie in 2014, but took a step back in his second season and then finished the year on injured reserve due to an ankle injury. He still had strong grades according to Pro Football Focus in run blocking, but he struggled in pass protection.
Fortunately, center Cameron Erving returned to the lineup versus the Titans, so he can start and guard John Greco, who was starting at center in Erving’s place while he was out, can return to left guard. Alvin Bailey and newly signed Jonathan Cooper are holding down the right guard spot.
The Browns actually have two former first-round picks on its offensive line. Cleveland took Erving in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, and Cooper was originally selected by the Arizona Cardinals at No. 7 overall in the 2013 NFL draft. The Browns selected Greco in the third round of the 2008 draft.
All-Pro Joe Thomas and right tackle Austin Pasztor round out the Browns starting offensive line, but Cleveland’s depth upfront is nearly non-existant. In addition to losing Bitonio, backup center Austin Reiter is also on injured reserve.
And of course, the Browns quarterback position as been a carousel. Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown started Weeks 1 and 2, respectively, but both suffered injuries which pushed rookie Cody Kessler into the lineup. Last Sunday versus New England, Charlie Whitehurst finished the game under center because Kessler sustained an injury too.