4 Browns who could earn a roster spot in preseason Week 3

Browns, Johnny Stanton. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Browns, Johnny Stanton. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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Which four Cleveland Browns could lock up a roster spot in the final preseason game against the Chicago Bears?

The competition is brutal, but there are at least four players who have a realistic chance of forcing their way onto the Cleveland Browns roster and a strong performance in the preseason finale might cement their claims.

This isn’t counting newcomers such as backup quarterback Josh Dobbs or starting center Ethan Pocic, who are pretty much known to have made the team by now. These are players who are not really known to the Dawg Pound at large, but who this writer thinks can actually make the team.

It looks like Nakia Griffin-Stewart will be the third tight end this season. No kidding, we are not even going to pretend that he needs a nice game to make the team. But does that mean that the Browns are done with Johnny Stanton? Not necessarily.

4 Browns who could earn a roster spot in preseason Week 3

Browns, Johnny Stanton. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

 No. 4: Johnny Stanton

If Nakia Griffin-Stewart is the third tight end, and we think he is, this may mean that Johnny Stanton will not make the initial 53-player squad as a fullback, H-back, and extra tight end.

However, that doesn’t mean that he will not play against Carolina come Week 1. In fact, it is even money that he will clear waivers, accept a position on the practice squad, and actually play in the opening game as a fullback.

Remember, the NFL has a rule that a practice squad player may be temporarily promoted for up to two weeks and play in the game as the 54th player on the roster. So, Stanton doesn’t need a roster spot to play for two weeks, as long as we believe he can clear waivers.

The chief drawback of this plan is that the New England Patriots lost fullback Jakob Johnson in the offseason. Have they completely sworn off the use of a fullback? Eliot Wolf, the former assistant general manager in Cleveland is now director of scouting for the Patriots. Yet the Patriots have given no indication of trying to use a fullback this summer, so our best spy reports say that they really aren’t using a fullback this season.

However, even the Browns seemed ready to do away with the fullback position in favor of a more wide-open offense, until it became clear that Deshaun Watson would be indisposed for a while. Now, it appears that the Browns will continue to play an offense that is heavy on tight ends and ball control, i.e., the so-called “Stefanski offense.” That may have saved Stanton’s career because suddenly they are agreeable to having a fullback on the roster again.

If the Browns go the route of having their cake and eating it too, by Week 3, they will have to either give Stanton a roster position or send him back to the practice squad. By that time, there are usually IR injuries that allow a roster spot to open up.

When Watson returns, Stanton’s role may change. He may be less of a fullback and more of an H-Back, as the Browns will throw the ball more and run less. It doesn’t necessarily mean fewer touches for Nick Chubb, but he might be doing more damage through the air and less on the ground. Stanton may still be blocking for him.

However, he had better have a good game Saturday versus the Bears to make sure all of this can happen.