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Category Archives: Training Camp

Intriguing Battles for the Roster – Offense

Intriguing Battles for the Roster – Offense

Guys to Keep an Eye on Next Month

Well, the Cleveland Browns are not full of Joe Thomases and Joel Bitionios – therefore several positions are up for grabs as the team gets back on the field in Berea in July.  Outside of the obvious (and annual) quarterback derby that has already been underway, there are a few key spots where one guy who can separate himself from the rest of the pack.  Let’s look further into those position groups.

Right Tackle

It appears that Shon Coleman will have the first crack at the starting lineup for the orange and brown.  He is big, mean, and has a solid track record in college; however the second-year athlete has yet to prove he can make it work (consistently) in the NFL.  I have faith that coach Bob Wylie will work his “magic” (pun intended) with the former Auburn star.  Meanwhile Spencer Drango and Cameron Erving are waiting in the wings for their opportunity.  I have mixed feelings about Erving, who has been rather underwhelming since joining the team.  Drango had an up-and-down rookie campaign, but getting another training camp under his belt should help his progress.

Tight End

The release of veteran Gary Barnidge opens the door completely for a guy or two to secure the starting position.  The frontrunners are rookie David Njoku and Seth DeValve, who have been impressing the coaching staff up to this point.  Both are receiving threats but could use some work attempting to develop as a run blocker.  Randall Telfair and maybe a wildcard could earn some playing time; however, I would be surprised if the aforementioned duo does not get the lion’s share of snaps.  The question might be, can DeValve hold off the first round rookie?

Wide Receiver

Under the assumption that Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt remain healthy and play up to their capabilities, the Browns will have their top two wide out options.  That still leaves another athlete or two who the team will be counting on to haul in passes for the franchise.  Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis, and Rannell Hall are three options to fill a void that was missing in 2016.  Like some of the tight ends, a young athlete (Louis) has been garnering solid reviews from his supervisors.  However, I am intrigued to see how Hall bounces back from a promising 2016 exhibition season prior to missing the entire year due to a broken leg.

Conclusion:  There is a long way to go until the regular season kicks off in just over two months.  However, the roster must be settled prior to that point in time.  This would include several competitions at position groups, hopefully with the best man winning the gig.  I would like to believe that these include guys who can play in the NFL and not roles just needing to be filled.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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Updating the Cleveland Browns

Updating the Cleveland Browns

The Latest News Coming from Cleveland

Well, there are other things going on in the world of sports – outside of the NBA Finals.  The Browns are making moves both by acquisition and departure, hopefully they were the correct ones.  Meanwhile, a possible issue could be looming for one of the team’s better players.

The Trade (Heard Round the World?)

I am being a tad facetious when I mention the swapping of underachieving athletes between the Browns and the Jets.  The Browns sent linebacker Demario Davis to his former club and agreed to take Calvin Pryor (the former first round safety from the University of Louisville).  I am hoping that Pryor can fill in at the strong safety role for the orange and brown – while rookie Jabril Peppers plays a hybrid linebacker/safety role.  It’s a boom or bust proposition made by the Brown; a gamble I would prefer over Demario Davis.

Potential Contract Dispute?

It will be interesting to determine whether running back Isaiah Crowell will be on the roster for several more years or just though the 2017 campaign.  The veteran signed a restricted free agent tender a couple months ago, guaranteeing his spot on the club this year.  What will happen after this occurs?  The Browns have Duke Johnson and newly acquired Matthew Dayes to compete at the running back position.  I would venture that the team would add another talented runner to this group if they wanted to get rid of Crowell.  I would prefer the team keeps the veteran on this team, but that is the nature of the business – anywhere the team can upgrade, they should do it.

Latest Release

Before he could even put the pads on and get ready for training camp, Tyvis Powell was let go by the orange and brown.  Personally, I would have liked for him to compete on the gridiron to see what will be the best combination of safeties for this franchise.  However, the team did not agree with me and they will go the other direction.  I sincerely hope that Derrick Kindred and Ed Reynolds step up and provide solid play at that position.  Anything similar to what we saw in 2016 and the Browns are in trouble this fall.

Conclusion:  There were some under the radar rumblings for the Cleveland NFL franchise at this point in the season.  I firmly believe they will be improved from a year ago – but am far from confident that they are making all the correct decisions.  Hopefully the team has taken to the new leadership (especially on defense) and fans will see an up close difference during next month’s practices.

 

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The Calm Before the Storm: Cleveland Browns’ News

The Calm Before the Storm:  Cleveland Browns’ News

More News About the Browns 

There are just two more days until the Browns season finally(unofficially) kicks off! A pair of information nuggets surrounding the orange and brown recently came out; how they affect the team remains to be seen however. Hopefully the team was able to upgrade at one position, will they at another very soon?

Nick Hayden Inked

Well the Browns finally picked up a veteran defensive lineman to replace the injured Desmond Bryant. Free agent Nick Hayden was acquired to provide leadership to a young group upfront. He is not known for his pass rushing ability, so he will largely figure to be a factor on early downs. Hopefully he can prevent longer runs by opponents on the edge. I do not anticipate a great deal from Hayden, however (at least) mediocre play while allowing a rookie to come in and take the reins as the five-technique spot (i.e. Carl Nassib) would easily suffice.

That Gordon Guy 

The wide receiver who had a bunch of yardage three years ago (on a bad team) was recently back in the news – by speaking with the commissioner. On Monday, the suspended star was actually be reinstated into the NFL; under the condition he will still be suspended the first four games of the season.  As a Browns’ fan, I am waiting for his next slip and and am ready to move on. Will Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins, and Andrew Hawkins be a feared receiving trio in this league? That is unlikely – especially in 2016 – but one thing is certain; they will be available to play all year long (barring injury). The Browns do not need yet another distraction this upcoming season. Plus isn’t getting kicked out of college, in addition to NFL suspensions in 2013, 2014, and 2015 (and now 2016) enough?  If the Browns can get something in return for the troubled wide out, would be a huge coup (though extremely unlikely).

Third Stringer (or Not?)

A bit has been made about Terrell Watson, the larger running back that coach Hue Jackson signed from his former employer – the Cincinnati Bengals. His upbringing has been documented, being given up by his teenage mother to be raised by his grandparents. It appears that Watson is ok with what happened and persevered though that and with learning disabilities. Last year, the rookie runner was on the practice squad; can he make the leap in 2016? Perhaps his personal over comings can translate onto the football field, but he will have to steal opportunities from either Duke Johnson or Isaiah Crowell. Another option is that he could unseat Malcolm Johnson at the fullback position – while not exactly glamorous, it could lead to the opportunity to stick with an NFL club.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2016 in NFL Season, Training Camp

 

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News for the Browns: The Latest from Berea

News for the Browns:  The Latest from Berea

Browns Before Camp

The time is finally here; Cleveland Browns’ training camp begins in just one week! Hopefully Hue Jackson can run a tight ship and put the team in the best shape possible prior to week one. The news will continue to ramp up in the near future, however for now we take a look into another blow for the club as well as facing a future Hall of Famer.

Desmond’s Injury

In a similar fate to what happened a few years ago to former Browns defensive lineman Phil Taylor, veteran Desmond Bryant injured his pectoral muscles lifting weights. This led to surgery to repair this injury, which is expected to shelf the lineman for all of 2016 – something the Browns could ill-afford. Guys like Armonty Bryant (after he serves his four-game suspension) and rookie Carl Nassib will have to step up and fill the void at defensive end. I would not be surprised if the team signs another veteran in the next few weeks that could play this position as well. Bryant’s contract with the Browns runs though this season; it will be interesting to see what happens for both sides in February.

Brady’s Opener

This is lesser of a Browns’ story, but it still impacts the franchise headquartered in Berea. Veteran signal caller Tom Brady has finally waived the white flag and has accepted his four-game suspension to begin the regular season. His team then faces the Browns in week five – which will be in Cleveland. Could Brady be rusty and make mistakes allowing the home team pull the upset? Surely, and the quarterback is not getting any younger as well. However, the Patriots have been great since the turn of the century so my faith in the Browns winning this contest is not extremely strong.

Conclusion: As the Republican National Convention leaves town, it’s time to get back to football. The only benefit to an injury this early is that the Browns have time to react and make roster moves to see who can help along the defensive line. Meanwhile, beating the Patriots is no easy chore – facing their quarterback with a chip on his shoulder will not be an advantage for the orange and brown.

 

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2016 Training Camp: Defensive Competitions

2016 Training Camp: Defensive Competitions

Training Camp Battles:  Defense

In the second part of our two-part series, we switch to the other side of the ball and focus on the defense.  This unit has nowhere to go but up, as they were either ranked last or near last in several categories in 2015.  Thus, the victor in a few competitions for playing time must be head and shoulders above the guy he is replacing from a season ago.

Outside Linebackers:  Armonty Bryant severely cost himself this season, with his four-game suspension to begin this September.  If many guys on the outside linebacker spots perform well in camp, the veteran might be released following his mandated time off.  That said, the Browns have Paul Kruger, Nate Orchard, Barkevious Mingo, and Emmanuel Ogbah as a few worthy members who will man the outside linebacker roles.  Mingo has fallen out of favor (for me and many others), so if the other three can provide a steady rotation – then perhaps this can become a reliable unit for the Browns.

Inside Linebackers:  Christian Kirksey is the lone remaining man in the middle from a season ago.  I would venture to say that he will be a starter once again in 2016, but who will join him?  Free agent acquisition Demario Davis is the likely choice.  Joe Schobert and Scooby Wright will more than likely begin their professional career on special teams (provided they make the final cuts).  However, if one can excel at a single thing (pass coverage, pass rush, etc.), then they might be on the field sooner rather than later.  Justin Tuggle, the free agent pickup appears to be a long shot for playing time.

Safeties:  Turnover was in full force for the safety position after last year’s disappointment.  Ibraheim Campbell is looking to fill the void (left by Whitner and Gipson) at one spot; will Jordan Poyer become the other full-time starter?  Rahim Moore was brought in this offseason – and with his poor 2015 outing, he will have something to prove in Cleveland.  There have also been rumors that former cornerback Pierre Desir could be shuffled to safety this campaign. Coach Horton needs to find guys who can support the run and stay with their man on passing situations (neither of which occurred in 2015).

Defensive Line: John Hughes and Danny Shelton are the favorites as starters for this defensive line.  However, the key decision will be who will be putting in time as a reserve.  Carl Nassib, Jamie Meder, and Xavier Cooper will be attempting to get some opportunities upfront.  I would like to say that the Browns finally have depth at their defensive line – however they must play up to their capabilities in order for this to occur.

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2016 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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2016 Training Camp: Competition Among Teammates – Offense

2016 Training Camp: Competition Among Teammates – Offense

Training Camp Battles: Offense

Well the calendar has flipped, and it is finally July – the same month that training camp starts for the Cleveland Browns!  Granted, it might not commence for several weeks – but it is never too soon to start looking at several position groups that need sorted out before the first regular season game in Philadelphia.  In the first of our two-part series, we take a look into the offensive side of the ball.

Quarterback:  The most important position in football (and probably all of sports) is all but Robert Griffin’s to lose.  Though coach Jackson will not admit to it publicly, he will be the man under center to begin the regular season.  There have been conflicting media reports about Griffin play during minicamp, nonetheless training camp is his time to shine.  I would hope he can separate himself from Josh McCown and rookie Cody Kessler in these practice sessions.  Doing so would help give me a little bit more faith headed into the regular season campaign.  Cody’s time will come, but not in September 2016.

Right Tackle:  The departure of Mitchell Schwartz can either loom largely or not at all over the orange and brown this fall.  That is dependent on the play of his successor; which raises the question, whom will it be?  Alvin Bailey (a veteran) appears to have a leg up over rookies Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman.  However, the youngsters might get their opportunity to unseat Bailey in the starting lineup. One thing is certain – protecting the quarterback and walling off defenders is vital for this offense to have any type of success.

Wide Receiver:  Well, someone’s got to catch the football for this offense.  Veterans Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel will get first crack at fitting into the starting roles – however, their final roster spot is still not guaranteed.  A pair of rookies might be out on the field to start game one – possibly Corey Coleman and Rashard Higgins. Terrelle Pryor has been getting praise from his offensive coaches; it will be very interesting to see where he ends up on the depth chart.

X-Factor:  This can go a myriad of ways.  The first is utilizing Duke Johnson as a slot receiver, while Isaiah Crowell is lined up at running back – giving defenses something to think about.  The second is the capability of Corey Coleman and what kind of spark he can provide to this offense.  Finally, rookie Seth DeValve is a large receiving option and could present mismatches on the field – especially when paired up with Gary Barnidge at tight end.  I am eager to see what Hue has up his sleeve for this offense.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2016 in Offseason, Players, Training Camp

 

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Post OTAs News and Notes for the Browns

Post OTAs News and Notes for the Browns

The Latest from Cleveland

As the stories continue to come out, I continue to delve further into them.  First, the head coach’s philosophies continue to strengthen – to the dismay of some.  Additionally, the Browns can take steps forward this training camp where they previously went backwards. Finally, some guys are meeting up in the west coast during down time.

Hue’s Attitude

I like the way Hue Jackson is throwing caution to the wind regarding practices during training camp, which will include players wearing pads.  Those in analytics (as well as the Ivy League) feel it might not be wise to do this – for fear of injury.  However, Jackson has mentioned being able to take care of his players (and I trust him). Meanwhile, apparently those involved with analytics did not watch the 2015 Cleveland Browns practice and subsequently their regular season. The soft and mushy practices led to several injures (due to being ill-prepared) and being manhandled by stronger and more physical teams.

Meet up in Tampa

Last season, the Browns and the Bills held joint practices and scrimmages in upstate New York.  Things did not go so well for the orange and brown, who gave off an appearance as a high school team rather than a professional one.  That pretty much set the tone for the season and the pathetic results that ensued.  2016 is a chance at redemption, as the Browns will travel to Tampa to join the Buccaneers for a two-day practice session, prior to their exhibition contest.  It goes without saying that the guests need to be the aggressors this time – not to mention the ones who excel.  Will it lead to a 12-4 record this fall?  Unlikely, but I’m tired of the Browns being a joke.

Workouts in Los Angeles

Corey Coleman, Rob Griffin, and Cody Kessler (to name a few) are some of the Browns’ players who are expected to travel west within the next month to work out and prepare for the upcoming NFL season.  It may not be much, but this is yet another example of this team “getting it”, while their predecessors did not.  I hope the rapport being built by this offense carries over, regardless of who is behind center. Pulling in the same direction is vital for the Browns – and signs of this are on display.

Conclusion:  The Browns appear to be righting some of their wrongs from a three-win season a year ago.  I continue to feel confident in my five-to-seven victory prediction for 2016, as training camp should help to solidify this.  Who knows, perhaps Jackson can continue his magic and the Browns have a miraculous season.  Bottom line is that I am not ready to be negative about this team just yet.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2016 in Offseason, Training Camp

 

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