Camp is Here!
The NFL offseason is officially over, as a few teams have already begun 2019 training camp. The Browns will kick off the start of their campaign on Thursday, and the excitement is palpable. Judging by the fact the fanbase secured tickets for all available training camp practices (of which I was denied on multiple attempts – but I’m not bitter), as well as snatched up single game regular season seats in a matter of hours – and its obvious that Browns’ fans are ready for football. But what are we excited about? How about a little refresher heading into the season.
Youth in the Secondary
The Browns’ first draft selection this spring was cornerback.Greedy Williams. I highly touted athlete who conceivably dropped in the draft due to physicality concerns. Fortunately his speed, athleticism, and most importantly ability to cover should make up for his perceived weakness. Who’s to say he can’t learn this skill at the next level? One thing Denzel Ward could teach him is to tackle properly while not bite off more than he can chew (i.e. possible injuries attempting to tackler larger players). That said, I am looking forward to Williams working with Terrance Mitchell, Phillip Gaines, and Ward to solidify the cornerback position.
Knowing One’s Role
It’s been well documented that influx of talent on the offensive side of the football for the Cleveland Browns. While that is exciting for supporters of the franchise – a big question remains; how will the talent mesh together? Can Antonio Callaway accept the third receiving spot and improve upon his route running? Will David Njoku be a forgotten man in the offense, or will he find opportunities as he should present matchup problems versus linebackers/safties? Then there is the Duke Johnson scenario – a guy doing all he can to get out of town. Provided Drew Rosenhaus cannot work his magic for a trade – Johnson should have a prominent role at the running back position. He figures to be a receiving option and could be on the field when fellow rusher Nick Chubb is also playing. What will happen when Kareem Hunt returns from his eight game suspension? I am not certain how touches will be divvied up, but I think Freddie Kitchens will and anticipate great output at that position group.
After the initial wave of enthusiasm for the Cleveland Browns (following free agency and the draft) – some are now ramping up their critiques heading into camp. The arguments that “these guys haven’t done anything yet” or “they are over their head” could be valid points for some teams, but not this franchise. The personalities of Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., and Freddie Kitchens are such where they are not intimidated by difficult situations or “big stages”. The will help other players who are not as equipped with daunting tasks. I understand that the Browns currently don’t have a track record of sustained success but teams have to start somewhere. The 2001 Patriots, 1999 Rams, 2013 Seahawks are three examples of teams that came out of nowhere to win a Super Bowl. Not saying the Browns will accomplish this feat in 2019, but teams can be playoff contenders without following multiple playoff appearances.
Conclusion: The Browns have a difficult journey ahead; expectations are plentiful and teams will be ready to defeat this “lovable bunch” as this mantra is losing steam by the day (which I am fine with). I am very eager to see how the season progresses and the players develop into the winter.