By Dan Williams @Dan_Wi11iams on July 26, 2014
The Cleveland Browns' 2014 edition of training camp kicked off this morning in Berea, OH. Cleveland enters camp with a new coaching staff and many new faces along the roster, meaning starting positions and roster spots are up for grabs. Browns' positional battles will be intriguing all the way up to the start of the regular season, so here's a look at five of the most interesting training camp position battles for the Cleveland Browns in 2014.
In 2013, OG John Greco primarily started on the left side, but could make a move over to the right side for run blocking purposes. Either way, Greco is slated to be in the starting lineup, which leaves the LG position open for three primary candidates. Newly signed Paul McQuistan, rookie Joel Bitonio, and Jason Pinkston will all be vying for the fifth and final spot along the offensive line. McQuistan received much of the work in OTAs.
Before training camp began, it was reported that rookie RB Terrance West had failed his physical and was placed on the non-football injury list. But West was cleared and began camp as what many believe to be the second-string back behind Ben Tate. With the Browns' new emphasis on rushing the ball, West's ability to handle a large number of carries will help, but expect the versatile Tate to earn his role as the starter when the season begins.
Cornerback is one of the biggest questions for the Browns heading into 2014. Last year's starter opposite Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, is expected to see a majority of the first-team snaps at cornerback, however, he will challenged by rookies Justin Gilbert and Pierre Desir. The biggest challenger to Srkine's role is Gilbert, who has more size and may be just a tad slower than Skrine. Gilbert will have learning to do, but has the ability to start.
Wide Receiver Josh Gordon's suspension poses a large issue for the Browns. With so many names on the roster, the WR position is either wide open or a free-for-all depending on one's level of optimism. Andrew Hawkins was brought in to occupy the slot, and while he's the perfect fit, he may be the Browns' only true threat outside of TE Jordan Cameron in the passing game. Expect veterans Nate Burleson and Miles Austin to start at WR.
Head coach Mike Pettine made news when he named Brian Hoyer the starter heading into camp, stating that he was way ahead of Johnny Manziel in terms of being NFL-ready. Pettine has since said that an official starter will be named by Week 3 of the preseason, meaning Manziel will need to prove that his off the field antics haven't hindered his game. Although Hoyer will take majority of the first-team snaps, Manziel should see significant reps.
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