By Tony Grossi
The Morning Kickoff …
Bigfoot sighting: Way down the road, someone is going to have big shoes to fill replacing Browns rookie right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. I mean, really big shoes.
I told Joe Thomas that Schwartz, the Browns’ second-round draft choice and the newest stalwart on a famously young offensive line, wears a size 18 shoe.
“Holy cow!” Thomas exclaimed. “I didn’t realize that. I’m only a 15. Eighteen? That’s about as big as I’ve played with. (Former Browns right tackle) Kevin Shaffer was a 17. Holy smokes!”
So can we assume that Schwartz is being called Bigfoot?
“We will now,” Thomas said. “I noticed they were big but I never asked how big.”
At University of California, where Schwartz started 51 games in four years, including 15 at right tackle, the Bigfoot nickname was prominent. He also was known as Big Show, as he strikes a facial, and physical, resemblance to the giant WWE pro wrestler. (Big Show is already taken here, of course, by President Mike Holmgren.)
“Actually my brother wears a 19. So I’m the baby foot in the family,” Schwartz said of older brother, Geoff, the starting right guard of the Minnesota Vikings.
Down to business: Yes, there’s more about Schwartz than his big feet that Thomas has noticed.
Thomas entered the NFL with a reputation as a master technician at his position, and that has been enhanced during five Pro Bowl seasons at left tackle. Thomas makes a stunning admission.
“For a guy coming in as a rookie, he’s got great technique. He’s a technician. I think he’s got better technique than I did when I was a rookie,” Thomas said.
I told Thomas that’s a huge compliment coming from him.
“It’s meant to be,” he replied. “He’s very impressive. His level of detail, study-wise, is also impressive. I don’t think he’s had a mental error yet. As a rookie, that’s impressive, to be running with the Ones.”
Blending in: Schwartz has so many things going for him that he has been penciled in as the starting right tackle already. His size (6-5 and 318 pounds). His starting experience at a pro-style offensive college team at Cal. His familiarity through his brother Geoff about what to expect in his first NFL camp. And his familiarity with center Alex Mack, with whom he played for two years at Cal.
“When Alex was in school he was awesome with working his technique,” Schwartz said. “He was always one of those guys who was probably the better athlete than most. He could have gotten away with stuff. He didn’t have to work so hard on technique, but he did. And he was a great leader from that perspective. If the guy most physically talented is also the hardest worker, that sticks with you and that’s something I’ve tried to do as well.”
Schwartz replaces veteran Tony Pashos, who played hurt virtually every game in his two years. Schwartz should be the missing link at right tackle on a starting offensive line that could grow together for a lot of years.
From left to right, Thomas is 27, Jason Pinkston is 24, Mack is 26, Shawn Lauvao is 24 and Schwartz is 22.
Schwartz said he can already feel the camaraderie of the unit.
“You can definitely tell they all enjoy being together. The guys are awesome, having fun, keeping loose,” he said.
I’ve got to believe there will be some Bigfoot references when they all get back to work next week for the last round of OTA practices.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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