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Browns' Alex Mack on very cautious rehab schedule

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Alex Mack wants to be ready for training camp, but he'd like it much more if he was guaranteed a spot in the season opener.

That's the theme of a cautious rehabilitation plan which has been in motion since the Browns' star center broke his leg in October, leaving one of the league's better offensive lines without its core.

"We're making some pretty steady progress, doing what we need to do to get out there for training camp," Mack recently told ESPN.com. "But it's more important that I'm out there for game day. Those two feelings have to balance out. It just takes time, having patience. Two weeks after the surgery, I wanted to be up and running around. I'm not 18 anymore."

The former first-round pick, who was nearly a Jacksonville Jaguar last season, said that he doesn't expect any drop-off. While he's in the thick of a five-year deal worth more than $40 million, the Browns certainly hope not.

If there's anything that could save this season in Cleveland, it's the running game. The Browns have a core stable of backs they're excited about in Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell and a dominant group of run-blockers led by Joe Thomas, Mitchell Schwartz and Joel Bitonio.

Mack back at 100 percent only adds to a line that was among the best in football before his injury.

If nothing else, the Browns need that much to hinge their hopes on.

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