Browns still facing lineup questions

Browns still facing lineup questions

Published Oct. 23, 2014 6:51 p.m. ET

BEREA, Ohio -- The heavy lifting of the practice week is done, but the Cleveland Browns still have roster and lineup decisions to make for Sunday's game vs. the Oakland Raiders.

Starting nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin, who's been out two weeks with an ankle injury, said Thursday he will test the ankle before Sunday's game and might not know until then. The Browns listed Rubin and defensive end Billy Winn as limited in Thursday's practice. Phil Taylor is expected to miss at least one more game.

At full strength, defensive line is probably the deepest group on the Browns roster. Defensive end Armonty Bryant was lost for the year two weeks ago; Ishmaa'ily Kitchen has played well at nose in Rubin's absence.

There's uncertainty on the offensive line, too, as the Browns struggled last week in their first full game without injured center Alex Mack. The Browns have Nick McDonald in his second week of a three-week window practicing while trying to return from the non-football injured list.


The Browns could activate McDonald and play him at center, moving John Greco back to right guard. Browns Coach Mike Pettine was noncommittal on Thursday, saying the Browns "used different rotations" in practice and won't make any decisions until they have to.

McDonald could stay on NFI another week or could be activated as late as Saturday. Last week, Paul McQuistan played at right guard.

"We mixed him in a little bit, but three days (of practice) isn't that much time," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said of McDonald. "Of course I'd like to see more of him, but we've only got one more day of practice. We'll see how it goes."

The Browns struggled to run the ball last week for the first time all season despite having all three running backs who have produced this season healthy and available for the first time. The Browns have understandably offered few hints on who will share the rushing load with starter Ben Tate or what kind of role Isaiah Crowell or Terrance West might play.

Shanahan hinted that carries will be earned in practice.

"When you hand them the ball, they'd better run hard and do as (well) as they can," Shanahan said. "If they want to be out there more then they need to separate themselves and show that they're obviously better than the other guy, and we'll keep them out there more. I've never had to rotate a bunch of running backs because usually I've always had a running back who really separates himself from the others. I think we've got three solid guys.

"We've even got a fourth guy (Glenn Winston) who I think does a good job who you guys haven't seen yet. We've got a bunch of solid guys who do a good job, but for one of those guys to just get the bulk of the carries and to take off, that's up to them. They've got to show us that they're ahead of the other guys."