The Cleveland Browns will open training camp in 10 days, but is the final roster already set in the minds of the coaching staff and front office?
The Cleveland Browns will open their second training camp under head coach Hue Jackson on July 27 at team headquarters in Berea.
Throughout the course of training camp, which includes 15 practices open to the public, and four preseason friendlies the coaching staff will work to shape the 53-man roster that will open the season on Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And while fans like to dream of a player making a surprise run through the preseason to claim a roster spot, that is more myth than anything. The truth is that the Browns, like all NFL teams, will likely open training camp with a pretty good idea of who will emerge at the end with a roster spot.
As flexible as the position may be — these are still the Browns, after all — the quarterbacks are going to be Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer and Brock Osweiler. (Sorry Kevin Hogan fans.)
Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson are going to be the top two running backs, David Njoku and Seth DeValve are likewise the top two tight ends, at least seven of the offensive line positions are locked in, as are the top five wide receivers.
On the defensive side, Myles Garrett, Danny Shelton and Emmanuel Ogbah will make up three-quarters of the starting defensive line, with Larry Ogunjobi and Carl Nassib also holding down spots. Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey will be the top two linebackers; while Joe Haden, Jamar Taylor, Jason McCourty, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Jabrill Peppers Ed Reynolds and Derrick Kindred will populate the secondary.
Take your personal biases out of it, and it is easy to see how, barring injury, the final roster will look come September. With the end of training camp two-a-days and other changes in the collective bargaining agreement, there are only so many practice reps to go around, making it that much more difficult for a player on fringes to make an impression.
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That doesn’t mean that training camp and the preseason will be without intrigue, of course.
The quarterback situation still has to work itself out, and we all can look forward to the daily throw-by-throw breakdown of Kessler, Kizer and Osweiler on Twitter.
While they will both likely make the final roster, the competition at right tackle between Shon Coleman and Cameron Erving will be a big one, if nothing else than for the continued good health of whoever wins the quarterback competition.
On defense, the team still needs to find someone to line up next to Shelton in a four-man front, and how the various pieces fit in the secondary remains very much to be determined.
The biggest question, which won’t be answered until September, is if executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown and Jackson are committed to building the best 53-man roster they can, or if they want to make the best 53-man roster with the players they have drafted.
In theory, the Browns should be better this year, which in turn should make it more difficult for rookies like Roderick Johnson or Caleb Brantley, for example, to make the team out of training camp.
Last year the Browns opened season with all 14 of their draft picks on the roster. If they repeat that again this year, they will likely face some questions. It’s one thing for the higher draft picks to make the squad, but if some of the third-day selections don’t outplay the competition but still claim a roster spot, that’s a different story.
How those decisions play out, and the rationale behind them, may wind up being the most interesting story to come out of training camp and the preseason.