Dawand Jones was back at practice Thursday but the Browns’ tackle situation is still up in the air


Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Dawand Jones celebrates after defeating the Indianapolis Colts.

Dawand Jones returned to practice on Thursday ahead of the Browns’ matchup with Pittsburgh.Joshua Gunter, cleveland.com

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If Jones is able to go, it would mean either Hudson would move to left tackle or the Browns would turn once again to Geron Christian, a journeyman who played all 78 snaps against Baltimore in place of Jedrick Wills Jr., who is on injured reserve and isn’t expected back until at least Christmas Eve.

Christian was at home before the Browns brought him in, dropping his kids off at school and spending time with his family. He played one other game this season before last week and it was against the Steelers when Christian was with the Texans.

“They had me and (Austin Deculus) rotate, but I played, I would say, about 50% of the game,” Christian said.

A 2018 third-round pick by Washington — Bill Callahan was his first offensive line coach — Christian has started 17 games in his career, eight with Washington over three seasons, eight with Houston and last week. He’s also spent time with Kansas City and Miami.

When he played against the Steelers on Oct. 1, a 30-6 Texans victory, he played on the left side against Alex Highsmith, who started the Week 2 Steelers win over the Browns with a pick-six and had the strip sack of Deshaun Watson that Watt returned for a touchdown.

Highsmith didn’t have a sack against the Texans, but he had a team-high four pressures. Christian, according to PFF, didn’t allow any of them. Deculus allowed three pressures.

(PFF doesn’t offer exact matchup data on pass rushing, but didn’t credit any Steelers pressures against Christian.)

“He’s a smart player, high motor. He gives great effort,” Christian said of Highsmith. “So I mean you may think you got him blocked and he’s going to keep working. He’ll come with a counter. Obviously he has a real good spin. So just effort, don’t give up on the plays.”

Christian won’t shy away from the opportunity if he gets to match up with Highsmith again. He knows how important these moments are for a player in his spot.

“They mean everything honestly,” Christian said. “Especially with how this season has gone for me with being at the house and not really being on a team. So it’s just every opportunity, it’s really the only opportunity.”

One thing the Browns didn’t try against the Ravens — and won’t try this week — was kick Joel Bitonio from his familiar left guard spot to left tackle, something they did out of desperation in 2021 when COVID-19 ravaged their roster in late December.

(Quick aside for a little Browns trivia: Bitonio was on the verge of succeeding Joe Thomas at left tackle in 2018 before the coaching staff pivoted at the last minute.)

“Yeah, I was ready for whatever we had to do (against the Ravens),” Bitonio said. “I’ve done it in the past a little bit here, so I’ll stay ready. There’s always that emergency and if it’s needed, but I like my spot at left guard.”

Bitonio has faced the Steelers more than anyone on the offensive line, so he knows the challenge whoever lines up at tackle will face this week.

“Big, big challenge this week,” he said. “Obviously with T.J. and Highsmith, those guys, those guys can rush the passer, so it’ll be another big challenge, but it was impressive (against Baltimore). I think it’s a shout out to our coaching staff and those guys were really understanding the plan and getting down our terminology.”

Jones would like to take on the challenge again this week. He missed out last week on the Browns’ biggest win of the season.

“Definitely tough,” he said. “I just knew the boys are going to carry on without me.”

They carried on, just like they have all year. This is an offensive line that has figured out how to make it work.

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