By Dan Williams @Dan_Wi11iams on April 28, 2014
The Cleveland Browns have a number of players on the roster who face pivotal 2014 seasons. These players have the chance to show they are worthy of becoming staples in Cleveland, but must perform well to solidify their spots on the roster. Here are five players who face make-or-break years for the Browns.
Kruger was a top free agent target during the 2013 offseason and the Browns made sure to lock up the rising star. But, Kruger had a less than stellar season in which he recorded only 47 tackles and 4.5 sacks. If Kruger has another season like 2013, the Browns could regret going all-in last year on the 28-year-old.
Schwartz will get the chance to start at right tackle for the Browns in 2014, but he will be closely watched as the Browns search to solidify their offensive line. Last season, Schwartz started all 16 games for Cleveland and will look to do the same this year. But if the three-year pro doesn’t play up to the Browns' standards, he could be watching from the sidelines.
Skrine is the starting cornerback opposite Pro Bowler Joe Haden, but he's had his issues with teams shying away from Haden’s side of the field. Skrine has top speed, but his ball awareness is lacking; if expects to remain the starting corner he will need to sharpen his ball skills or younger players on the roster could step into the starting lineup. Cleveland will almost certainly have Skrine on a short leash in 2014 after May's draft.
If Little is still on the Browns’ roster at the start of the 2014 season, it will be a make-or-break year for the North Carolina-born player. This is the last year of Little’s contract; while he’s a pillar of health, his inconsistent play has been a deterring factor in his ability to grow as a player. With teammate Josh Gordon emerging as a star in the NFL, Little will see more passes thrown his way and failure to produce could end his tenure.
Prior to the 2013 season, Hoyer was signed by the Browns as the third-string quarterback behind Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, but was given the opportunity to start in Week 3. Hoyer made the most of it by defeating the Vikings, the Bengals in Week 4, and starting in the Browns’ Week 5 victory against the Bills. Coming off injury, Hoyer will need to regain his 2013 form in order to remain the starter in Cleveland.
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