By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: Browns offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz needs to be at the top of his game for the very beginning of his second NFL season because Miami Dolphins All-Pro defensive end Cameron Wake is coming to town.
Schwartz, the starting tackle on the right side of the offensive line, realizes he’ll have his hands full while trying to protect quarterback Brandon Weeden in the regular-season opener Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium. Coming off a career-high 15 sacks last season, Wake will line up across from Schwartz at left defensive end.
“He does a lot of things that disrupt tackles,” said Schwartz, a second-round pick in last year’s draft who started all 16 games as a rookie. “He’s got a lot of moves. He’s also got a lot of counter moves, playing off of you and kind of taking advantage of your mistakes.”
Wake earned his second Pro Bowl selection last season after moving from 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 end. After spending time in the Canadian Football League, Wake has posted 43 sacks in the past four seasons combined.
“Every week there’s guys you go into it, and they’re capable of having a major impact on the game,” Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. “Obviously Wake is one of those guys. He’s an awfully good pass rusher. We’re going to have to be smart in what we do. We’re going to have to make sure we account for him when we get in those situations where he’s able to turn it loose.”
Schwartz said Wade excels at exploiting any lapse in technique, so he must be precise while pass blocking.
“If you open up on him, you kind of give him a two-way go,” Schwartz said. “He can take advantage there. If you’re too worried about his speed and you fly up field, he’ll come underneath or he’ll bull rush you. So [the key] is just being really fundamentally sound.”
The players elected Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas (offense), inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (defense) and outside linebacker Quentin Groves (special teams) the captains for the season, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Friday.
Groves, who signed with the Browns in March after spending last season with the Arizona Cardinals, expressed gratitude for the honor and wants to prove he’s worthy by leading the special-teams units to success.
“People don’t realize that special teams can win and lose you ballgames,” Groves said. “If you don’t take pride in it and if you don’t go out and put your best foot forward, it’s going to show. When I was in Arizona, we would always watch Cleveland because they always had the big punt returns, they always had the great coverage teams and I just want to continue the great tradition here.”
Each week, Chudzinski will choose a fourth captain, and he picked wide receiver Davone Bess for Sunday. Bess spent the past five seasons with the Dolphins, who traded him to the Browns in a swap of draft picks in April.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith took a shot at Chudzinski, the Panthers’ offensive coordinator last season, earlier this week during a conference call with Seattle reporters.
“The prior offensive coordinator [Chudzinski] really was positioning himself to just apply for that head coaching job,” Smith said. “I think our offense suffered a little bit because of that.
“At times, we got cute. We did things that weren’t necessarily us, like the under-utilizing of [running back] Mike Tolbert. But we’re out of that. The past is the past.”
Chudzinski was asked for his reaction Friday.
“I’ve been focused on Miami,” Chudzinski said. “Anything else, I’m not worried about.”
The Browns ruled out rookie backup outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo (bruised lung) and right guard Shawn Lauvao (high ankle sprain). Veteran backup tackle Oniel Cousins will start in Lauvao’s place.
Defensive end Ahtyba Rubin (strained calf) and cornerback Buster Skrine (shoulder) are questionable. Bess (knee), defensive end Desmond Bryant (back), tight end Jordan Cameron (groin), linebacker Eric Martin (foot), cornerback Chris Owens (foot) and outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard (illness) are probable.
The Dolphins ruled out cornerbacks Will Davis (toe) and Jamar Taylor (groin) and quarterback Pat Devlin (ankle). Cornerback Dimitri Patterson (ankle) is questionable. Safety Jimmy Wilson (hamstring), tight end Dion Sims (groin), linebacker Jonathan Freeny (shoulder) and defensive ends Dion Jordan (shoulder) and Vaughn Martin (ankle) are probable.
Jackson, the defensive captain, watched the Denver Broncos’ 49-27 thrashing of the Baltimore Ravens Thursday night for scouting purposes. The Browns will face the Ravens in Weeks 2 and 9.
“That’s the only reason I’m watching [the Ravens],” Jackson said. “I’m not rooting for them.”
A statue of Browns Hall of Fame wide receiver Paul Warfield will be unveiled Thursday at Warren Harding High School’s Mollenkopf Stadium, where Warfield starred before attending Ohio State University. The Paul Warfield monument includes a life-sized bronze statue and two double-sided granite panels chronicling his career.
Warfield, 70, is scheduled to attend the dedication ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday. The public is encouraged to attend a dinner afterward at 7:15 p.m. Thursday in the school cafeteria. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. Warfield will also be honored during halftime of Harding’s game Friday against Massillon.
The monument is being funded solely by community donations, which can be mailed to Warren G. Harding High School, care of the athletic department, 860 Elm Road NE, Warren, OH 44483.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.