Browns’ Pashos poised for debut

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BEREA, OHIO (AP) - Tony Pashos zipped open his oversized brown equipment bag, shifted his shoulder pads to one side and dropped in his orange helmet.

On Sunday, he’ll finally get to wear it.

Cleveland’s jumbo starting right tackle will make his season debut this week against the Tennessee Titans after missing the Browns’ first three games with an injured left ankle. It’s been a long road back for the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Pashos, who said there’s nothing more frustrating than being a spectator on game day.

“I’m trying to put that in the rearview mirror right now,” he said. “You don’t enter in this business to watch it. Being forced to watch it is tough to do. But it’s a violent game. It’s not for everybody, and a lot of injuries happen along the way. You’ve gotta be able to rise above that.”

The Browns (2-1) have been patiently waiting for Pashos.

After signing as a free agent with Cleveland before last season, Pashos made three starts before he injured his right ankle. He was placed on injured reserve and missed the club’s last 10 games. One year earlier, Pashos played in only five games for San Francisco when a shoulder injury landed him on IR.

His massive presence on the right side can only help Cleveland’s running game, which should be back at full throttle. Running back Peyton Hillis has recovered from a nasty bout with strep throat and will play Sunday.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur is thrilled to have Pashos back. The team listed Pashos as questionable _ a 50 percent chance of playing _ on the week’s final injury report, but Shurmur said the plan was for Pashos to start unless he has a setback.

“He’s an old pro, he gives us some size and actually does a nice job of pass protection as well,” Shurmur said. “I’m not used to seeing him in there playing much other than the preseason snaps so I’m looking forward to seeing him work.”

While Pashos was sidelined, Artis Hicks and Oneil Cousins kept his spot warm at right tackle. Hicks has started the past two games while Cousins started the opener against Cincinnati, with Hicks coming in for spot duty. With Pashos back, one of those two may be inactive against the Titans.

Pashos wasn’t sure what impact he’ll have on Cleveland’s offense.

“It’s a team sport. Every guy matters,” he said. “I’ve been saying it all year, the guys who have gone in there have done a great job. They’ve been battling and we’re 2-1. I’d like to get in there and get some of that too.”

Browns second-year right guard Shawn Lauvao can’t wait to play alongside Pashos. They built some chemistry during training camp and haven’t been able to add to it.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “Tony is a hell of a player. It makes me feel more comfortable. Artis and Oniel are both good players, but (Tony) is who I played next to most of the preseason. So I’m more familiar with his style of play and how we can kind of jell together. It also brings back leadership and all the qualities that make you want to play better.”

Pashos picked the right time to get healthy _ or maybe not.

Tennessee has the league’s top-rated defense, which will test the Browns’ ability to move the ball.

“They’re the No. 1 defense in the league for a reason,” Pashos said. “If you watch film, everyone of those guys across the board, the front four, the linebackers, everybody, they are going to the ball, they’re hustling. They’re a hard-working front and they’re a hungry front.

“Their coach definitely has them playing hard and we have to rise to that challenge. It’s a good defense coming in here.”

Notes: The Browns’ injury report stayed the same all week with CB Sheldon Brown (groin), LB Titus Brown (ankle), WR Josh Cribbs (groin), DB Eric Hagg (knee), WR Mohamed Massaquoi (ankle), Pashos (ankle) and LT Joe Thomas (knee) all limited in practice and listed as questionable. They only two not expected to play are Titus Brown and Hagg, who could be back after the bye week.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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