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“That’s why they draft you,” the 6-foot-4, 305-pounder said. “They bring you in here and you’ve got to be ready, because you know it’s a long season. You never know when someone’s going to get banged up or nicked up or what’s going to happen. You just got to be ready to step up and play.”

Thomas can appreciate Pinkston’s situation. After being drafted third overall in 2007, he started right away and had to learn on the fly. Not every rookie can do it, and it’s even tougher for Pinkston because of the NFL lockout and because the Browns are implementing a new offensive system.

“It’s definitely an uphill battle, especially for a rookie,” Thomas said. “It would be an uphill battle for anybody who didn’t get all the reps in a new offense with a new coach and everything like that. We’ll get him ready for that first game, whoever it is.”

Pinkston admitted playing alongside a pair of Pro Bowlers can be a bit intimidating, and there have been times he’s felt lost before the ball is snapped. It’s at those moments when he turns to Thomas or Mack.

“Sometimes I come up there and I freeze a little bit,” Pinkston said. “Joe leans over, ‘You know what you’re doing?’ he helps me out. Or Alex. They’ve been great with helping me out. No complaints there.”

If Pinkston can’t get the job done, the Browns have other options.

On Tuesday, they added depth when they were rewarded Oneil Cousins off waivers from Baltimore. Cousins, a former third-round pick, lined up at right tackle with the second-string offense in practice. Also, the team acquired veteran guard John Greco earlier this month in a trade with St. Louis.

Thomas said Steinbach’s replacement has big shoes to fill, and that there isn’t much a team can do to hide a player.

“You’d hope that whoever steps in there is going to be able to hold his own and it’s not going to have to be somebody to cover up,” he said. “But there’s plenty of different schemes you can run to try to help certain guys.”

Notes: TE Ben Watson missed his second straight practice with a hip injury. … Starting right tackle Tony Pashos was also kept out of some drills, but Shurmur said the big man “was fine.” … The Browns will fly to Chicago on Wednesday for Thursday’s preseason finale. Shurmur said he’s still trying to decide how much playing time to give his starters, but hinted he will probably rest most of them.