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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Browns @ Bears – A Glimpse into Preseason Game #4

Browns @ Bears – A Glimpse into Preseason Game #4

Looking Ahead to Browns @ Bears – Preseason Game #4 

Well, the last preseason game is finally upon us. A rather boring contest, but it is key for many guys fighting for their jobs. The analysis will be much more difficult as most of the key starters will either be on the sidelines or in for a few series. Nonetheless, let’s delve into this matchup. 

Offense: 

Quarterback – It’s going to be the Thaddeus Lewis show on Thursday night. The third-year pro is not expected to make this roster but with McCown resting and Johnny Manziel sitting out, the team has to turn to their third string signal caller. If he does not make this final roster – hopefully he can play well enough to get a call from another NFL club. I liked his play last week, so that’s a good start.

Running Backs – All I want from this unit in this matchup is to avoid injuries. I would anticipate that West, Crowell, and possibly Johnson see a little bit of time on the field – but Timothy Flanders and Jalen Parmalee will likely see some touches against the Bears. Shaun Draughn would normally get an opportunity – but his hand injury will prevent him from carrying the football. 

Wide Receivers – Will Terrelle Pryor make the Cleveland Browns regular season roster? This game might be the answer to this question, as it will be the only exhibition contest for the veteran. I want to see him on this squad, but if he cannot prove himself – I understand him not making the cut. I want to see what rookie Vincent Mayle can do; he has had drop issues, but his size and speed give him an opportunity to secure his spot with the club.

Tight Ends – Seeing E.J. Bibbs in extended time is the primary thing I look forward to from the team’s offense in this matchup. The undrafted rookie has been shakin’ and bakin’ defenders after securing grabs this preseason. I expect to see him make the final squad, but he first must prove that he belongs.

Offensive Line – Outside of Cameron Erving, who appears to be reliable reserve offensive linemen? One would have thought that Michael Bowie was one of those guys, but he has been extremely disappointing thus far. Hopefully a guy or two can step up and show that they can come in relief this regular season (in a short stint, unlike last year).

Defense:

Defensive Line – Billy Winn, Armonty Bryant, and Xavier Coops are just a few guys who will be evaluated heavily in this contest. The Browns are deep at this position group, and some difficult decisions will have to be made in the coming days. I want to see these athletes not only set the edge, but get a great push on the edge – forcing Jimmy Clausen to make a quick decision behind center. 

Linebackers – Who has the leg up in the battle between Tank Carder and Hayes Pullard? Thursday’s matchup might be a telling affair, as both are inside linebackers and special teamers. Hopefully one guy can make it easy for Ray Farmer and his final cuts. I want to see dominance from Nate Orchard when facing backup offensive linemen. The rookie is expected to excel, as he face better competition from guys in practice (on a daily basis).

Secondary – Here’s where it gets really interesting; as there are many jobs up for grabs. Guys like Justin Gilbert and Robert Nelson have either been hurt or ineffective this year. Will they make an impact in this contest, or play their way off the roster? I want to see K’Waun Williams get some playing time, as he is expected to see the field once the regular season gets underway (and has missed the past few contests). Ibraheim Campbell will be the primary strong safety – hopefully he can continue to grow in his rookie season. 

Special Teams: Pretty much the only thing that is left for this group is the final decision for the kicking duties. Honestly, I have no horse in this race – but as long as either Carey Spear or Travis Coons are accurate and consistent then I will be content.

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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Browns @ Buccaneers – Breaking Down Game #3

Browns @ Buccaneers – Breaking Down Game #3

Review of Browns @ Buccaneers – Preseason Game #3 

I must admit I did not what to expect from the Cleveland Browns in this contest. They faced an apparent inferior team, and the starters dominated the home team. Outside of a few possible concussions, this was a tremendous outing for the club. I cannot wait to see what they can do in the coming weeks. However, let’s look at last night’s contest first.

Offense:

Quarterback – Facing pressure or not, the Josh McCown displayed a great ability to get the football out of his hand quickly. His passes were not always on target, but they were close enough were only the receiver could secure the grab. It was mostly dink-and-dunk play calls, but if they work and the end result is a score – keep ‘em coming. I loved seeing McCown’s competitiveness during this contest, but diving headfirst is something that I wish he would not do (especially during the preseason – and on multiple occasions). 

Running Backs – It would appear that the three-headed monster was finally unveiled in Tampa. Whether it was West, Johnson, or Crowell – the guy behind the quarterback was effective in this contest. In addition to some solid rushes by the second-year pro, watching Isaiah Crowell catch and run was a sight to see. This part of the offense was sorely needed in 2014; this only makes the unit even more dynamic. That was a scary moment seeing Johnson leave his feet (and getting drilled) during a pass reception. That cannot occur this year, and could lead to a possible huge injury. 

Wide Receivers – Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel each hauled in nice gainers early in this contest. Instead of a sideline fade (like last week), the Browns tossed some quick hitters and under routes for the speedy targets. That’s all I wanted to see in this contest – seeing McCown put his guys in the best position possible to succeed. Brian Hartline’s touchdown was a thing of beauty; the wily veteran knew where to be in the end zone and got both feet down before going out of bounds. My confidence in this unit continues to build, and executing in their proper role is key for the upcoming season.

Tight Ends – An extremely quiet outing for this position group; as Jim Dray’s two short receptions were the only noteworthy play from the starters. I have a feeling that consistency from the tight ends (receiving-wise) will not occur this year. Some of this is due to the game plan, which is to be expected in this chess game known as the NFL. However, if the wide receivers and running backs can pick up the slack, then there should be few worries. 

Offensive Line – For the most part, the five guys upfront dominated their counterparts. McCown stayed relatively clean, and holes were available for all three running backs. Avoiding infractions and free rushers to blow by them is a must – and fortunately that is what the Browns’ line achieved. The incorrect penalty called on John Greco (for a chop block) killed a potential scoring drive; hopefully the calls will go more to the team’s favor during the regular season.

Defense: 

Defensive Line – There’s the run defense that Browns’ fans and coaches were looking for. Winning the point of attack is critical in this league; hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the orange and brown. I really liked what I saw from veteran Desmond Bryant. The defensive end had a pair of sacks during the first quarter, as well as multiple pressures on Jameis Winston. It was not all rosy for this group, as Doug Martin scored on a large rush in the second quarter. That should give the group enough fire to resist complacency. 

Linebackers – Just another game for veteran linebacker Paul Kruger – it seemed that he was always around the signal called once the team dialed up a blitz. Scott Solomon was relegated to more of a run stopping role, which he did an excellent job of doing the dirty work. The key stop of the third and one was amazing, and it all started with Solomon pushing through the Buccaneers’ offensive line. It was a relatively quiet game for the guys on the inside, they were not exceptional but they were not blown off the ball either.

Secondary – Charles Gaines playing in the first quarter – and intercepting Jameis Winston (along with several nice pass break ups)? With K’Waun Williams and Justin Gilbert injured, the rookie made his case to be included with the first team defense. I was encouraged from what I saw, and want to see what he can do early in the contest next week. I noticed one play where Joe Haden came crashing off the edge during a corner blitz. It was unsuccessful, but those types of plays should work (as I have faith that the remaining secondary can cover opposing wide outs).

Special Teams: Now, that wasn’t so hard – was it? Travis Benjamin channeled his 2013 self, by taking the first punt of the game back for a touchdown. I don’t expect to see this on a regular basis, but long gains and threats of a touchdown can finally give this unit the respectability that was missing last year. Now Carey Spear got a shot to shine for the kicking gig – and made the most of his opportunity (with a nice field goal and solid kickoffs). Hopefully the coaching staff can choose the correct kicker for this team.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Browns @ Buccaneers – Previewing Preseason Game #3

Browns @ Buccaneers – Previewing Preseason Game #3

A Look Ahead – Browns @ Buccaneers – Preseason Game #3 

The third preseason contest is finally here, and the next chapter awaits the 2015 Cleveland Browns. The starters will likely participate a majority of this contest; an improvement in play (overall) is the bottom line. I do not expect the Buccaneers to be a top-tier team this year, so the Browns have got to flex their muscles on Saturday night. Below is my glance into this contest:

Offense:

Quarterback – Well now that Josh McCown got those pesky interceptions out of the way, he can focus solely on throwing touchdown passes. All joking aside, I simply want to see him continue with his trend this exhibition season of solid play (minus the turnovers, obviously). I believe he can be what this coaching staff needs for this offense, but I would like to see it in action (more than one drive vs. Washington) before I feel better. As far as Johnny goes, continued smart play is all I am asking against the reserves.

Running Back – Are we finally going to see the beginning of the road for rookie Duke Johnson? If the coaching staff wants to utilize him in the regular season, he must provide a solid reason to do so. I understand the running attack has been taking its time to excel, but adding Johnson to his mix should aid their progression. At this point Terrance West seems slightly ahead of Isaiah Crowell in the veteran completion. I am all for the team playing whoever gives them the best chance to win and am eager to see multiple carries of ten yards and more in Tampa.

Wide Receiver – Dwayne Bowe and Terrelle Pryor are the two wide outs I want to see on the field this week. Neither has been active these past few weeks, which has hurt the unit. The emergence of Travis Benjamin and Shane Wynn has put Pryor in a situation where’s he must perform well if he wants to make this team. Regardless of who the signal caller is, the receivers must catch (I am looking at you, Vince Mayle) and run when given the opportunity.

Offensive Line – Speaking of improvement, it would be a relief if the Browns could actually create holes for running backs on a consistent basis. Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz have been struggling this exhibition, while the second team looks like a complete disaster (especially Michael Bowie). Instead of running screen and draw plays most of the year, the better option would be to win at the point of attack and make it easier for this offense.

Defense:

Defensive Line – The guys on the end should put something on film to assure the coaching staff that they can hold their own. This includes forcing running plays to the middle and clogging up areas – causing opposing running backs and quarterbacks to lose yards and/or make poor decisions. I saw a few glimpses of this last week (primarily with Randy Starks and John Hughes), but that must continue against a unit that is not feared in the NFL. A couple of sacks by the Browns defensive line would not hurt as well.

Linebackers – I do not have to worry about the three guys in the middle (but I want to see if Hayes Pullard can join that group); the outside linebackers are where I will focus my attention. Scott Solomon had his issues last week – I want to see him clean this up against Tampa Bay. Rookie Nate Orchard looked a lot better last week than he did in the preseason opener. Slowing down the opposition’s rushing attack is where he needs to display in this game. 

Secondary – Health has not been synonymous with the Cleveland Browns’ secondary this year. Hopefully Pierre Desir, Robert Nelson, and K’Waun Williams can get back on the field and shut down Jameis Winston and their passing offense. Justin Gilbert is a huge question mark, so I don’t even know whether I want to see him play or not. I have faith in the safeties, so they do not have to do anything exceptional in this contest (but I would be ok with that if they did).

Special Teams: Is Travis Benjamin truly back to his 2013 form, as a punt returner? I surely hope so, and Saturday is the final opportunity to show his moves in a game against starters. I expect him to break off at least one long gainer. It appears that Travis Coons has the edge as the starting kicker – I envision a few (successful) field goals and long kickoffs by the veteran.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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What Happened? Browns vs. Bills – Game #2 Review

What Happened?  Browns vs. Bills – Game #2 Review

Analyzing Browns vs. Bills Preseason Game #2

Well this game was what I was expecting. A sloppy, physical contest that featured two defenses that shut down inept offenses. There were some penalties and mistakes made by both teams, which is to be expected at this time of year. It’s now time to break down the final preseason game played at First Energy Stadium in 2015.

Offense:

Quarterback – Well, unfortunately the Josh McCown that many had come to expect this season was on display at First Energy Stadium. His first two drives ended with poor decisions when tossing the ball – leading to interceptions. Overall, the quarterback made some nice plays, but turnovers are killer. Also this offense is not good enough to overcome multiple interceptions and still win games. Hopefully he can get back on track in Tampa.  As a backup, Manziel led a nice touchdown drive – I love seeing his progression, but I’ll wait to excited about his future.

Running Back – There was nowhere to go but up for the Browns’ running attack. Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell did not have tremendous performances, but they at least had some nice gainers not seen since about ten months ago. Those eight-yard-and-over rushes should be expected on a regular basis (we just needed to see them first). My faith has increased in this group, but let’s face it – they still have plenty of room to improve until September 13th.

Wide Receivers – This was not a stat-stuffing contest for the Cleveland Browns’ wide receiving corps. Brian Hartline secured a couple of fine grabs, while Andrew Hawkins was targeted on a few occasions. Other than that, the first team unit did not overwhelm by any means. Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel did not get involved until Manziel came in the game. I would like to see what Terrelle Pryor and Dwayne Bowe add to this offense, but that looks like I will still have to wait.

Tight End – All three veteran tight ends got into the receiving game for the home team. Gary Barnidge made a nice grab early, but tipped up a McCown pass leading to an interception (while leaving the contest with a possible concussion). In his absence, Jim Dray and Rob Housler were able to snare a few tosses as well. None in this unit will ever have a large yardage or reception output, but I just want them to come down with important grabs.

Defense:

Defensive Line – First, the positives for the group. Danny Shelton and Randy Starks each made a couple of nice plays while forcing the action behind the line of scrimmage. Other than that, there were missed tackles and assignments by the gang upfront. I really hope something can click with this group (and soon) so the line can be a much improved unit. Looking at their counterparts, the Browns still have a way to go until they can replicate the type of performance that the Bills’ defensive line has been displaying.

Linebackers – Paul Kruger was the only visible linebacker – outside or inside – for the Browns in the first half of this contest. He had a sack, a hit on Tyrod Taylor, and a great tackle for loss. Scott Solomon whiffed on a Taylor run and was rather disappointing. I hope some guy can step up soon; the Browns cannot afford to only have one reliable athlete on the outside (Orchard played nicely in the third quarter). It was a quiet evening for the trio in the middle – none really stood out but they were not poor either. I’m content with moving on and reevaluating these guys next week.

Secondary – About a billion injuries to the secondary did not provide a realistic gauge when looking at the back four. Johnson Bademosi is a fine special teams member, but should not be starting in the NFL (at least at this point). Fortunately, he held his own against Buffalo. I hope Jordan Poyer did not have a concussion, but if he did – I look for a quick recovery and for him to be ready to go for the regular season. That, and for Joe Haden, Pierre Desir, K’Waun Williams, Tashaun Gipson, and even Justin Gilbert to be healthy as well.

Special Teams: It would appear that Travis Coons might be the front-runner for the kicking job. He made a nice field goal last week and repeated that performance this contest. I just hope he can continue this all year long. Trading for Andy Lee was a great move by this front office – the Browns need to win the field position battle on a weekly basis, and he certainly helps with that.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Browns vs. Bills – Preseason Game #2 Preview

Browns vs. Bills – Preseason Game #2 Preview

A Preview of Game #2 – Browns vs. Bills

Following a few joint practices, the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills do battle at First Energy Stadium. Both teams are built similarly, physical upfront and reliant on their running attack (and putting less emphasis on the quarterback). This will be a good litmus test for each squad, being a Browns fan I hope the team makes their mark early on in this contest. Let’s take a gander at this matchup.

Offense:

Quarterback – Keep those good times rolling for both Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel. Both signal callers were excellent in hitting receivers last week (which should be expected given the base defense they went against). I would like to see a few longer attempts by both guys in this contest. Keeping away from turnovers is a must, but not the end of the world (as I have faith in this defense).

Running Back – Wilbert Montgomery has tried his best to fire up his part of the Browns’ roster, but up to this point it appears to be fruitless. West and Crowell might want to find holes and squeeze through them, if they do not want to be teammates with Ray Rice. I want to see Duke Johnson finally hit the gridiron, but it may not come in this contest. The ceiling and expectations are extremely high for this unit – Thursday is a giant opportunity to prove they will be ready for the regular season opener.

Wide Receivers – I must admit, a few weeks ago I had Travis Benjamin pegged as a definite cut by the Browns; however his play as of late has changed my opinion significantly. At this point, I would like to see him continue to improve in all facets (including as a returner). Terrelle Pryor is practicing this week, and I expect him to be in the lineup against the Bills. I am pulling for the former Buckeye to make the team, but he’s got a ways to go before he earns his spot.

Tight End – The rise of E.J. Bibbs is not surprising (and something I felt would occur).   The undrafted rookie is slated to grab a roster spot, and it looks like Rob Housler will be the guy out of a job. I am looking for what his contributions are in the blocking game; it may not be pretty, but the coaches need a gauge. Gary Barnidge has had a couple of nice catch and runs during training camp and the team scrimmage – why not show off one of these against the Bills?

Defense: 

Defensive Line – It would be nice if a couple of guys not named Danny Shelton show up in this contest. I know what the two veterans (Desmond Bryant and Randy Starks) can do – but the progression of Xavier Cooper will be something to watch. Billy Winn (when he is recovered from his injury) and John Hughes are two guys who can be options for this run defense. Slowing LeSean McCoy will not be easy, but this is a solid test to see if improvement has occurred.

Linebackers – I liked the play of all three inside linebackers last week and am content they will continue to improve all season long. Therefore, Hayes Pullard is another rookie who had a strong opener and can swipe a roster spot away from a veteran. I want to see what he can do against some first-teamers. On the outside, it appears that Kruger and Solomon might be the two starters – but what does the depth chart look like after these guys? Nate Orchard had an uneven performance last week, but the rookie will get better over time. With Barkevious Mingo on the sidelines, I would not complain if Armonty Bryant makes his case to push out the former first round draft choice.

Secondary – Is this Justin Gilbert’s last stand? The second year pro’s poor assessment last week was a downer. He obviously was not flawless, and no one in the NFL is (even the best know they must improve – i.e. Tom Brady). I don’t expect him to make great plays, but would glad if they happened. The duo I am eager to see is K’Waun Williams and Pierre Desir; they should make Browns fans forget about Buster Skrine. At safety, Ibraheim Campbell was decent against Washington – if he can replicate that against better competition, I would feel better about a potential successor to Donte Whitner.

Special Teams: Making the only field goal last week, it would appear that Travis Coon has a slight advantage in becoming the kicker. After the starters score a few touchdowns (hopefully), I want to see the reserves give these guys shots at nailing some longer kicks. More scoring means more kickoffs – another part of the game that can decide who makes the team. The punt returner position is still not secure, but Benjamin could remove doubt with some excellent gains.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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Browns vs. Redskins – Review of Game #1

Browns vs. Redskins – Review of Game #1

Review of Game #1 – Browns vs. Redskins

It was nothing flashy, but a respectable outing by the Cleveland Browns. The starting units held their own against the visitors and were beneficiaries of a few costly mistakes early. Overall it was a solid starting point for the 2015 campaign. Let’s review what went down at First Energy Stadium.

Offense:

Quarterback – The game plan for the offense appeared to be, “take what the defense gives you”. No matter if it was Josh McCown or Johnny Manziel under center; the Browns were content in dumping shorter routes as opposed to attempting longer throws. McCown ushered a seventy-five yard touchdown, while Manziel ran in a score as well. There’s quite a bit of room to grow, but not a terrible start for this duo.

Running Back – I believe this position will be extremely deemphasized during all of this exhibition season. This is probably for the best, as there is little to gain, while the threat of injuries loom large. That said, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West had a pedestrian performance in this contest (Crowell’s biggest play might have been a tackle on special teams). I am not too concerned about this group right now – but improvement will be needed in the coming weeks.

Wide Receivers – McCown hit a few of his targets early on – that was the hightlight of the receiving game for the Browns. Brian Hartline made some nice moves in open field, while Travis Benjamin got open and advanced the ball. The duo combined for five grabs, tops for all guys in the first half. I would still like to see the whole group be available (including Dwayne Bowe and Terrelle Pryor) but that might not come for some time.

Tight End – Not a tremendous amount of output by the tight ends. Gary Barnidge, Jim Dray, and Rob Housler could not secure a catch with the first and second units. However, rookie E.J. Bibbs had one reception for five yards – leading the group when most of the starters were playing. I expect the team to utilize this position group in the regular season, which athletes and how many targets is the question.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Danny Shelton led the unit that held the Redskins in check when rushing the football. It was not until the backups went in when the orange and brown struggled in stopping their opponents on the ground. Other that that, it was a quiet night for this group (which is not surprising). There were zero designed edge rushers and nothing to confuse their opponents. Hopefully we will get more of a look at this group next Thursday.

Linebackers – It was somewhat quiet by this unit as well, at least early on. The trio in the inside was solid in making plays when given the opportunities. All three had key stops in the first half of this contest. Only Paul Kruger’s hit on Robert Griffin III was noteworthy by the outside linebackers – the rest was forgettable. Without Barkevious Mingo available, Scott Solomon could not stand out as a viable replacement. However, next week is another opportunity for the veteran to make his mark.

Secondary – The absences of Joe Haden and Pierre Desir were felt early and often. Justin Gilbert was picked on during the first two drives of the Redskins. Aside from Pierre Garcon getting behind him and dropping an easy pass – Gilbert looked decent in coverage. He’s got to improve tremendously (and fast), but I suppose this game can be a stepping-stone for the second year pro. Tashaun Gipson made a few nice plays at safety; I am glad he picked up where he left off in 2014.

Special Teams: Forcing a pair of turnovers early, successfully making a field goal, and having decent returns on kickoffs and punts all occurred by the orange and brown. That’s about all you can ask for in the first game of the preseason. I envision necessary growth by this unit during the regular season.

Overall, I am content that the Browns can build from this performance. They were not great, but much better than they have been in years past in exhibition openers – and ahead of their counterparts (at least when the starters were playing).

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Preseason Game #1 – Washington @ Cleveland – Preview

Preseason Game #1 – Washington @ Cleveland – Preview

Preview of Preseason Game #1 – Browns vs. Redskins

Finally!  After months of waiting, the NFL Draft, Free Agency, and multiple practices – the Cleveland Browns get to take the field against another opponent.  This is an NFC East foe who is not too familiar with the orange and brown, despite a Monday Night Football matchup last exhibition.  Let’s hope the Browns’ offense plays better in 2015 against these guys.  (As usual, I omit coaching from my preview as this is a very vanilla time and they will not tip their hands with play calls.)

Offense:

Quarterback – It’s Josh McCown’s opportunity with this team’s offense.  He has excelled for the most part in practice and has helped his teammates both in the huddle and on the sideline.  I would like him to complete a few passes of different lengths and finish off at least one drive with a touchdown.  As far as backups go, improvement, improvement, improvement is extremely vital.  I know it’s not regular season speed, but Manziel must look a ton better than last fall.

Running Back
– The hamstring injuries to Terrance West and Duke Johnson sort of took the air out of this position group.  My feelings remain the same for this exhibition year as any other – don’t risk any injuries to running backs that will play this fall.  Therefore, maybe Isaiah Crowell should play one series in this contest.  Other than that, it should be Luke Lundy, Shaun Draughn, and one of the new additions shouldering the load against Washington.

Wide Receiver – Here is where things get interesting.  Depending on the type of offense this team will employ on Thursday, I am eager to see which guys are put into certain scenarios.  Bowe and Hartline should each have a grab for a modest gain, while I hope to see Taylor Gabriel attempt a long reception.  The next battle I am eager for is Vince Mayle against Terrelle Pryor and Travis Benjamin.  This trio has gained a lot of positive marks thus far – who will take the first step in securing a final roster spot?

Tight End – It appears that three guys will make this team among four candidates.  The question is whether rookie free agent E.J. Bibbs can knock Rob Housler, Jim Dray, or Gary Barnidge from this roster.  I believe he can steal a spot – but he must make an immediate impact when joining this contest.  He will likely enter in the latter stages, so he ought to excel against guys who probably will not start this fall.  Other than that, I would like to see a couple nice grabs from this group against Washington.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Coach Jim O’Neil has said repeatedly this offseason that “we will stop the run”.  Well, it’s not the regular season – but limiting the opposition on the ground should be the defensive game plan for the Browns.  Danny Shelton, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, and John Hughes must be able to hold their own.  On the outside, I would like to see different combinations to determine which guys work best with each other.  It might be a pair of veterans like Desmond Bryant and Randy Starks. Perhaps a speedy rookie (i.e. Xavier Cooper) and a strong veteran might be a solid fit.

Linebacker – Not a whole lot to focus on up the middle, as it might be Tank Carder versus Hayes Pullard for the fourth inside linebacker role.  The other three (Dansby, Kirksey, and Robertson) might play sparingly and I already know what they can do.  The outside is where we can finally get some answers.  Will Scott Solomon get the
nod opposite Paul Kruger?  Can Barkevious Mingo finally live up to the first round hype?  What should we expect from rookie Nate Orchard? Thursday night can be telling.

Secondary – Touted as one of the best in the league, the Browns’ secondary should be hitting on all cylinders; it just might not happen until September.  The fight among K’Waun Williams, Pierre Desir, and Justin Gilbert for the third and fourth cornerback jobs will continue – perhaps one guy will step up tremendously.  I do not expect the safeties to be too active in the exhibition season but I will still keep my eye on Ibraheim Campbell to track the rookie’s development.

Special Teams:

Some modest punt and kick returns would be a welcomed sight for this Cleveland Browns fan.  Both were missing in 2014, and that needs to be a part of this team if they want any chance of offensive success. Travis Benjamin might get the first shot, getting back to his old form is vital if he wants to resume his role as a returner.  I also would like to see what Justin Gilbert, Shane Wynn and Taylor Gabriel bring to the table (as Duke Johnson won’t suit up).

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2015 in NFL Season

 

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