Bitonio reluctant to move to left tackle


Associated Press

BEREA

Browns guard Joel Bitonio is sliding over to starting left tackle — probably for good.

Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson had been reluctant to have Bitoino change positions, but said Wednesday that he is “full speed ahead” with the switch.

Jackson said the coaching staff decided the team was better off with Bitonio at left tackle, a position held down by Pro Bowler Joe Thomas the past 10 seasons. Thomas retired in March.

“I’m going to put the best five players out there,” Jackson said following practice. “We know he’s one of the best left guards in football, he has the versatility to go out there and play, and me knowing Joel, he’s a team guy. I had a really good conversation with him, we’re going to do everything we can to continue to address that position. Right now, I think he gives us the best chance to go out there and play tackle and solidify the offensive line right now.”

Bitonio said he was told Tuesday that he would be changing spots after four seasons at left guard. He hasn’t played left tackle since he was in college at Nevada.

“I want to help the team win, and Coach Jackson wants to put the best five offensive linemen out on the field,” Bitonio said. “Right now, he thinks that’s with me at left tackle.

“So I’m going to try to be the best left tackle I can be, and if something happens where I’ve got to go play left guard again, then I’ll try to be ready to do that as well. It’s just what’s going to help our team win the most games.”

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Bitonio said the biggest adjustment will be playing in space against some of the NFL’s best pass rushers.

Bitonio added he has already reached out to Thomas, who told him would “need pointers.”

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