By Dan Williams @Dan_Wi11iams on July 24, 2014
Saturday marks the beginning of training camp for the Cleveland Browns, and there are several loose ends that will need to be tied before the start of the regular season. The Browns organization has been tight-lipped when it comes to providing the media with personnel updates. While it may be tough to predict how things will play out during camp, here are five predictions pertaining to Cleveland’s last offseason segment before Week 1.
In the 2014 NFL Draft, the Browns selected cornerbacks Justin Gilbert (Round 1) and Pierre Desir (Round 4) with the hopes of having one of them earn the starting role opposite Joe Haden. Gilbert has the speed and size to be a top cornerback in the league, but he could have a tough time being thrown into a starting role Week 1. A possibility is that Desir surpasses Gilbert in order to earn the role, but expect Gilbert to do enough to start.
The Browns made big moves this offseason in the running back department with the signing of Ben Tate and drafting FCS record holder Terrance West. Without training camp even starting, some around the league believe that West could be the Week 1 starter at RB. Expect West to receive a bulk of the carries during camp and preseason games, but Ben Tate will be the starter for the regular season should he stay healthy.
As a hybrid DE/LB, Jabaal Sheard has led the Browns in sacks the past three seasons. Head coach Mike Pettine has said that he’s looking for players who play smart rather than hard; luckily, Sheard signifies both of these styles. Sheard can line up at either DE or LB and produce results, but with Paul Kruger and the emergence of Barkevious Mingo at OLB, he should see more time lining up in Pettine’s sack-heavy defense with strong numbers in 2014.
Brian Hoyer vs. Johnny Manziel will be an ongoing story until the start of the regular season. Mike Pettine has said that a starting quarterback will be named by Week 3, and he has met with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains to decide how to split first-team reps between Hoyer and Manziel. Hoyer should be named the starter at some point during camp, as he will show enough to the coaching staff.
Josh Gordon’s upcoming suspension is detrimental to an up-and-coming Browns team on various levels, the biggest reason being the lack of a No. 1 target at WR. It was reported that Cleveland knew about the looming suspension but didn’t address the need in the draft. Instead, the Browns will rely on Andrew Hawkins, Nate Burleson, Travis Benjamin and Miles Austin to pick up the slack. With few options moving forward, expect the Browns to stay put.
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