5 Positional Battles to Watch During Cleveland Browns' OTAs
For the Cleveland Browns, OTAs give the first glimpse into how the coaching staff is handling its personnel on the field. The Browns have a multitude of new faces on the roster, which makes OTAs crucial to the players and coaches while they familiarize themselves with schemes and a new playbook. OTAs are also the first chance for players to emerge within their position. Here are five positional battles to keep an eye on during Browns' OTAs.
This season, Cleveland will continue to utilize the 3-4 defense so it’s imperative that their outside linebackers are able rotate without missing a beat. Cleveland returns Paul Kruger, Jabaal Sheard, Quintin Groves and Barkevious Mingo. The Browns added Christian Kirksey, who could potentially play either outside or inside linebacker. Although subject to change, Kruger and Sheard are thought to be the starters with Mingo and Groves as No. 2s.
Brian Hoyer is the starter -- at least that’s what the Browns have told us. Hoyer is coming off a surprising season in which he started three out of the four wins for the Browns, but he’s still unproven and his experience is limited. Rookie QB Johnny Manziel will be sure to push Hoyer for the starting role, but unless he shows that the Browns need to have him on the field, expect Manziel to continue to take second-team reps.
A top priority for the Browns in 2014, adding cornerback depth to help out Joe Haden is something Cleveland was able to do leading up to OTAs. The Browns drafted Justin Gilbert in the first round and Pierre Desir in the fourth round. They then signed free agents Aaron Berry and Isaiah Trufant to join Haden, Leon McFadden and last year’s starter Buster Skrine. Gilbert is thought to challenge to be a starter, pushing Skrine to the nickel.
2. OL (LG, RG, RT)
2. OL (LG, RG, RT)
One of the biggest questions for the Browns heading into 2014 is the offensive line. Left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack are mainstays, but questions at right tackle and both guard positions still loom. Browns’ returnee John Greco, former Seahawk Paul McQuistan and rookie OL Joe Bitonio are the top candidates for the guard positions, while incumbent right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is the front-runner hold the RT spot again in 2014.
Currently, the Browns have a total of 14 wide receivers on the roster including Josh Gordon and Travis Bejamin, who are the only two players returning from last season. When free agency began, the Browns signed Nate Burleson and Andrew Hawkins to complement Gordon; but with Gordon’s potential suspension Cleveland added veterans Miles Austin and Earl Bennett. Throw in five undrafted free agents and it could be a revolving door at WR for Cleveland.