When the season opens up, Eric Kush will be manning the right guard spot for the Cleveland Browns.
The position was one of the biggest question marks for the Browns when training camp opened and the seventh-year pro was able to do enough to earn his spot as the starter.
With names like Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon and Kareem Hunt being added to the roster in the offseason, Kush was an unheralded free agent signing. However, he turned out to be a key one.
Kush has 12 starts in his career, the majority of those coming with the Bears last season, where he was in the starting lineup seven times.
“We’ve been playing Eric there for 2-3 weeks. If we had a game tomorrow, he’d be our right guard,” Freddie Kitchens told reporters Saturday.
Eric Kush Gets Nod, But Can’t Get Comfortable With Browns
Kitchens stressed the constant competition he wants to see and that Kush can’t get comfortable just yet despite getting the first shot.
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“He’s got to continue to get better. He’s not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination,” Kitchens said. “There’s always competition and what these guys have to understand, they’re being evaluated every day. So right now, Eric will get the first shot from the standpoint of seeing what he can do. And I think he’s been doing fairly well. Not good enough yet, but he’s going to continue to get better to get there.”
Kush joined fellow lineman Joel Bitonio, JC Tretter, Chris Hubbard and Greg Robinson in leading the Browns with 44 snaps apiece against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday in a 13-12 loss.
With Kush being named the starter, it accentuates the disappointment surrounding second-year Brown Austin Corbett, who was penciled into the job when camp began. The Browns took Corbett in the second round last year, but he’s struggled mightily this preseason and could even be on the bubble when it comes to roster cuts.
Browns Kicker Spot Still Up For Grabs Despite Austin Seibert’s Big Performance
Rookie kicker Austin Seibert scored all of the Browns points against the Bucs, going a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals.
He opened the game with a 54-yard bomb before hitting from 36, 30 and 35.
“Pretty good, huh? I like that. I like it a lot,” Kitchens said. “That’s what he’s supposed to do, though. I just want to know what we’re getting when they cross the white line. From a skill position to a kicker, to an offensive line, to a DB, to a corner. I just want to know what we’re getting, and we’ll make adjustments from there.”
Despite the strong performance, Kitchens isn’t ready to hand the keys to Seibert just yet.
“Just because he made four kicks doesn’t mean the competition is over,” Kitchens said, noting that incumbent veteran Greg Joseph will get his shot Thursday as the Browns host the Lions in their preseason finale.
Both Seibert and Joseph have struggled through the preseason, but Seibert felt good after responding to the adversity.
“There’ve been frustrations. Big learning experience as well,” Seibert told the Browns official site. “If you don’t go through adversity, you’re not going to be a better kicker. You just have to go through that adversity headstrong and put your head down and grind. That’s what I do.”
The Browns kickoff the regular season against the Tennessee Titans at home on Sept. 8.