Bentley injury a blow to Browns' blocking

The torn patellar tendon suffered by Cleveland Browns free-agent acquisition LeCharles Bentley on Thursday certainly takes some of the wind out of the sails of an up-and-coming franchise.

LeCharles Bentley Bentley

All the news had been positive of late in Cleveland, with an aggressive big-dollar offseason and a promising new regime charting the course. But now the franchise has suffered another in a long line of unfortunate setbacks. First Kellen Winslow was lost for most of his rookie season. Then Winslow went down again last year. Then wide receiver Braylon Edwards had his rookie season cut short. Now Bentley. This team can't get a break.

General manager Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennell have done a tremendous job of transforming the Browns' roster and upgrading the overall talent. Positive steps have been taken in assuring the players they can become winners, but this season-ending injury is more than just a speed bump on that road for 2006.

The Browns' offensive line has been sub-par since the franchise rejoined the league, but the free-agent additions a year ago of two legitimate starting guards in Cosey Coleman and Joe Andruzzi and the signings of left tackle Kevin Shaffer and Bentley this offseason made the starting line unit more than respectable. Those four, along with right tackle Ryan Tucker, had the makings of a better-than-average unit as they played together and gained continuity. Bentley would have been the leader and best player of the group by far -- not to mention the one making all the line calls and adjustments. This five-some looked fine on paper and had the makings of a solid group -- now there are serious concerns.