Months ago Youth Larry Allen Jersey
, Desmond Harrison was confident he'd replace Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas.The Browns only realized it in the past few days.An undrafted rookie with a checkered past, Harrison will open the season as Cleveland's starting left tackle — a position held down by Thomas, a future Hall of Famer, for more than a decade — on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers."I'm replacing Joe, so I know how big it is," Harrison said.It's a remarkable jump for Harrison, who last season was pile-driving players at Division II Georgia State after not playing for three years following his dismissal at Texas.To Harrison, it's just football on a larger stage."It's a big leap," Harrison said Friday after coach Hue Jackson announced yet another transformation to his offensive line. "Kind of more people at the game, stuff like that. So that's probably like the only difference."Well, there's also blocking Cam Heyward and the other Steelers, who led the NFL with 57 sacks a season.But you gotta admire the rookie's swagger.Harrison's ascension up the depth chart is the latest wrinkle up front for the Browns, who have been tinkering with the left side of their offensive line for weeks. The team recently slid left guard Joel Bitonio to tackle and plugged rookie Austin Corbett in at guard.However, after four preseason games Larry Allen Jersey Stitched
, Jackson and his coaching staff didn't like the line's makeup. Determined to put the "best five guys on the field," the Browns decided to go with the 6-foot-6, 305-pound Harrison who looks like he was engineered in a laboratory for left tackles."He looks like a left tackle in this league," Bitonio said.Jackson said the 24-year-old Harrison has played like one."He is very talented," Jackson said. "He has earned it. He competed. When you put all of the different variables out there of what we could have done or would have done, and you look at it and you watch the practice tape and the game, he is the best left tackle for us to play right now."Obviously, Joel is the best left guard. We feel like we are heading in the right direction by far. I agonized over this decision because it is a huge decision. At the same time, I have confidence one, in our coaches, and in the player. He has worked hard. He wants this opportunity. He has demonstrated that."Harrison took a unique, unorthodox path to the NFL.A big-time high school recruit, Harrison committed to Auburn but didn't have the grades and started at Contra Costa (Calif.) Community College. He played two seasons of JUCO ball before transferring to Texas, where he played in seven games in 2013. But after reportedly failing multiple drug tests Youth Bob Lilly Jersey
, he was suspended several times and eventually left.He didn't play in 2015 and 2016, explaining he "was just getting myself right mentally."Harrison started nine games last season at West Georgia, compiling a dominant highlight tape that looks like excerpts pulled from the movie "Blindside." He missed the Senior Bowl because of a sprained knee and failed a drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.He admitted the drug test probably cost him being drafted, but the Browns signed him as a free agent in May.From the moment he arrived at rookie mini-camp, Harrison said he knew he would take over for Thomas, the 10-time Pro Bowler who retired in March following a remarkable career that included never missing a snap — 10,363 straight — until an injury ended his 2017 season.How did Harrison know?"Just how confident I am in myself," he said.Bitonio likes everything about Harrison."It's obviously going to be a big jump Sunday when you're playing in front of 60,000 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a vaunted defense, but I think he's ready," Bitonio said. "I think the coaches and upper management have made that decision and they trust him and they know he's going to get better every rep that he's out there to improve. He's a confident, kid, though."I know he feels like he belongs out there." Dak Prescott and Cam Newton find themselves in similar situations entering Sunday's regular-season opener at Carolina.Both quarterbacks are adjusting to a new group of receivers and playing behind banged-up offensive lines.The Cowboys will be looking to replace wide receiver Dez Bryant Bob Lilly Jersey Stitched
, the team's career leader in touchdown catches, and tight end Jason Whitten, who retired after 15 seasons.That's no easy task.The primary options to be slot receiver are Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns and rookie Michael Gallup. But Tavon Austin and Terrance Williams could be factors, too. Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin are the top two tight ends."I think each of the guys we have who are going to be up for this game are versatile," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "You can put them in different spots."Dallas also has holes to fill up front with All-Pro center Travis Frederick battling a rare auto-immune disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome and is doubtful for the game. Six-year veteran Joe Looney will get the start alongside rookie left guard Connor Williams. However Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin is set to start after dealing with a hyperextended left knee in the second preseason game.Newton faces similar issues in Carolina.The Panthers upgraded their speed at wide receiver in the offseason by trading for veteran Torrey Smith, signing free agent slot receiver Jairus Wright and using a first-round draft pick on D.J. Moore. All three figure to play a role in the passing game alongside returning No. 1 receiver Devin Funchess."We don't know what we have yet and that is why Sunday is so important for everybody — because we finally find out," Newton said.Carolina's offensive line was going to have a difficult time replacing All-Pro left guard Andrew Norwell — and that was before it got hit hard by the injuries.Second-team All-Pro right tackle Daryl Williams, left tackle Matt Kalil and Norwell replacement Amini Silatolu all went down with knee injuries in the preseason. Kalil went on injured reserve , meaning Taylor Moton will make his first NFL start at left tackle. Williams and Silatolu returned to practice this week, but it's still unclear if they'll be healthy enough to play against Dallas.RARE HOME OPENER: Coach Ron Rivera joked this week that he "has to get used to" the idea of playing a home opener. In Rivera's eight seasons in Carolina, this is only the second time the team has opened the season at home.DAVIS SUSPENSION: The Panthers will be without weakside linebacker Thomas Davis, who's suspended four games for testing positive for PEDs.That's a pretty big blow to the defense given Davis' skills and leadership. But Rivera is high on 2015 first-round draft pick Shaq Thompson, who has had an outstanding preseason filling in. Thompson was drafted as Davis' heir apparent Youth Terrell Owens Jersey
, but the veteran continued playing at a high level, thus limiting Thompson's reps. So this is Thompson's chance to shine.Rivera said Thompson has potential to be "an elite linebacker in the league."ELLIOTT FALLING FOWARD: Ezekiel Elliott doesn't have to worry about a suspension hanging over his head to start this season. The Cowboys' third-year running back may be primed for a big season, which concerns Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly."He's an elite running back," Kuechly said. "He's big, he's strong and he's powerful. He will run though you, and he always falls forward (for more yards). ... So when we hit him, we have to keep him where he's at and not let him do that."McCAFFREY'S ROLE: It's time to find out if Rivera backs up his statement about wanting to get running back Christian McCaffrey "25-30 touches per game." Rivera has said the team would like to use McCaffrey similar to how the San Diego Chargers used Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson.That seems like a lot of touches, particularly for a player with a slender build such as McCaffrey. But it's hard to blame Carolina for wanting to get the ball into the hands of its playmaker as much as possible.KICKING DEBUT: Brett Maher is set for his NFL regular-season debut as the replacement for Cowboys career field goal leader Dan Bailey. Dallas cut the second-most accurate kicker in league history because of Bailey's struggles after an injury last season and his relatively large salary for his position. The 28-year-old Maher has four years of CFL experience."In this profession, every single thing that you do is kind of pressure-packed," Maher said.AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas, Texas contributed to this report.