Cleveland Browns offensive guard Spencer Drango (66) and center JC Tretter (64) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Browns notes: JC Tretter confident he'll be ready for Buccaneers

Austin Corbett ready to step in at center if Tretter can't go

October 19, 2018

Daryl Ruiter-Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Center JC Tretter continues to walk around the locker room with a boot on his left foot, but there's still a chance he might play Sunday at Tampa Bay.

“The plan was to give myself and give me the most amount of time to get healthy as possible,” Tretter said Thursday. “I probably will be wearing the boot for a while. Just trying to get as protected as possible and not have any wear and tear on it.

“We have just been rehabbing it, doing everything that we can do in the training room to get it prepared and then we will test it.”

Tretter confirmed that he suffered a high ankle sprain and said the injury occurred at the 4:55 mark of the first quarter when Baker Mayfield converted on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 at the Chargers 45 when a defensive lineman rolled up on him.

Tretter will take his ankle for a test drive during Friday’s practice to see if he’ll be able to go against the Buccaneers.

“We will tape it up and we will see what it feels like, and we will make a good decision,” Tretter said. “I still feel confident about playing on Sunday. I played with it during the game for the rest of it, and it feels better than it did at that point. I feel confident.”

Even if Tretter can play, he’ll probably be back in the boot right after the game.

“I think it is one of those things that is going to linger probably for little bit,” Tretter said. “Just about trying to get it as right in the seven days that you have to get it ready for Sunday and then do the exact same thing the next week. That is just kind of how this business works with a little bit of a tweak here and there. It will be a good test tomorrow, and we will see where I am at.”

If Tretter can’t go, Head coach Hue Jackson will turn to rookie Austin Corbett, who has been taking snaps at practice this week at center.

Corbett is ready for the challenges that starting on the road will bring, especially the crowd noise.  

“We have the noise out at practice so we are able to get it pretty loud,” Corbett said. “Everything has been going really well on the communication side of it. With the added noise, it makes me have to really hone in, focus in and be perfect. So far, Baker has done a great job, and we have been on the same page. Just trying to keep that rolling.”

It’s the third position Corbett, who has appeared in four games with one start this season primarily as an extra lineman in jumbo sets as well as on field goal protect teams, has worked at since the Browns drafted him 33rd overall in April. In training camp he worked at left tackle and left guard.  

“It is a lot. Getting out there at tackle, you are completely on your own. You are on an island,” Corbett said of the transition. “When you are in there at center, you are running the show and at the same time you have to help on both sides. Just to be in there with Joel [Bitonio] and Kevin [Zeitler], two phenomenal guards, they have really helped me out a lot. JC has been really helpful for me to prepare and make sure I am on top of every call and I am on my technique on the ball.”

Slow starts – The Browns have scored just six points in the first quarter through six games this season and scored first in just one game – a 39-yard field goal in New Orleans.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley is searching for answers.

“We have had a lot of discussions amongst coaches, myself and the quarterbacks on how we can best get started in a better fashion,” Haley said Thursday.

“We have opened the game in no-huddle as we did last week. We have opened the game running the football. We need to do a better job as a group, and I am pointing the thumb at myself of figuring out a way to execute early. That has been a common theme. We have been in position to execute early and for one reason or another have not.”

Keep your hands to yourself – Interest in the NFL this season is booming thanks to the record-breaking number of points that have been scored in a season to date, but it’s too simplistic to just blame “bad” defenses for the offensive explosion.

Browns safety Damarious Randall summed life as a defender in the NFL up succinctly.

“You can’t touch the quarterback, barely can touch the receivers. This is an offensive league,” Randall said. “This is what the fans want to see. This is what the NFL obviously wants to see, but at the end of the day, we’re going to do what we can to slow them down through the rules, and we’re just going to keep fighting.”

Cornerback TJ Carrie, who will probably start this week for EJ Gaines who is likely out with a concussion, is also at a loss for words when it comes to slowing down receivers without being allowed to get physical with them, which could present a significant problem this weekend with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin, who have combined for 75 catches for 1,234 yards and 10 touchdowns this season for Tampa Bay.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Carrie said. “In all honesty, you've got to be crafty. It's very hard nowadays for us to get our hands on receivers. You have to be craftier than ever to slow them down, whether that's scheme, whether that's you knowing what they're doing, whether that's you taking one or two plays and being physical with them and not being as noticeable and the next play you kind of back off or whether that's just getting in their head mentally. That's another way you can slow a receiver down.”

Family heirloom – Kicker Greg Joseph has been walking around the locker room collecting signatures this week.

Joseph wants to have every player associated with the 12-9 overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens sign the ball that knuckled its way through the uprights with just two seconds remaining in OT for the franchise’s first AFC North victory since Oct. 2014.

“I had it at home and was looking at it and thought, I’d rather have the guys that I was with sign it,” Joseph said. “Hopefully it’s the first of many [game balls] and what’s cool is the first one will be signed.”

Joseph was awarded the ball by head coach Hue Jackson in the locker room following the victory and once all the signatures are gathered he won’t be selling it, it’s going to stay in the family.

“I’ll send it to mom and dad,” Joseph said. “I’ll get it later in life but right now they can have it.”

But before he can ship it out he still needs a few more autographs.

“I’m definitely working on getting the rest of the field goal unit,” Joseph said. “I got Tyrod [Taylor] but have to get the rest of the quarterbacks.”

Injury report – Did not practice: WR Rashard Higgins (knee), LB Joe Schobert (hamstring), C JC Tretter (ankle), CB E.J. Gaines (concussion)

Limited: None.

Full: TE David Njoku (knee), LB Tanner Vallejo (concussion)