Cleveland Browns decision-making will be more difficult with only two preseason games.
As the NFL and the NFLPA attempt to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic to attempt to have a full, on-schedule regular season, the expectation is the Cleveland Browns and the rest of the NFL will play only two preseason games instead of four games.
Making this change creates less travel for teams prior to the start of the season, hopefully preventing more transmission of the virus among the players. Playing only two games also gives the league some flexibility in case they want to delay the season at any point.
However, this puts teams in a precarious position when it comes to deciding on their personnel for the season. Not only did teams not have a offseason mini-camps with on-field workouts, but now they will only have two games to put their players in a game environment before the games really count.
The Cleveland Browns are building a roster full of young talent, especially at the bottom of the roster. They have some intriguing players competing for roster spots at several different positions. With several young players, it would have been tremendously beneficial to have the players on the field to see how they perform on the field and if they make improvements.
The Browns will have competitions at multiple positions for roster spots, but most notably at wide receiver and in the secondary. Both positions are littered with young players, but also veterans who look to well-positioned to keep their jobs.
At wide receiver, the Browns are expected to have a tough cut down considering head coach Kevin Stefanski does not feature three wide receiver personnel often. Because Stefanski prefers to use two tight end or two running back sets, the Browns do not need a ton of depth at wide receiver on the active roster.
With the Browns likely to feature only five wide receivers on the active roster, it will be a battle to get one of the roster spots. Because there will be fewer snaps to make an impression, the Browns will have to make some tough decisions on the bottom of their roster.
Cleveland will also have competitions for starting jobs, such as at right guard, linebacker, and at safety. These competitions will be tough to sort out because the Browns will have to rely more on how they perform during camp.
At right guard, the Browns are expected to have an open competition between Wyatt Teller, Drew Forbes, and Chris Hubbard. However, with only two preseason games, it will be hard to distribute multiple snaps to each player, so it could be hard to overtake Teller as the starter.
Several teams will be dealing with difficulty of fewer preseason games in 2020, but for a team with a new coaching staff and competitions across the board, it will be even more difficult. The Browns are already at a disadvantage with a condensed offseason, but they will also have even more issues when it comes to deciding how to sort out their roster and depth chart.