What to Consider Heading into Training Camp

Finishing up Minicamp – Now We Wait

Well, the Cleveland Browns just wrapped up team minicamp last week. There were plenty of articles and blurbs about player X exceling, while player Y made some mistakes. However, I am in the Coach Pettine School that the team finished up “fake football” and the real thing starts in July. The pads popping are just a part of what will help separate the supreme from the lesser athletes. Here are a few things to ponder in the meantime.

Who Will Fall Behind?

Every year there are a group of individuals on the ninety-man roster who will not succeed as much as their counterparts. Sometimes these are rookies who fail to understand the playbook, while others could be veterans who are coming off an injury or have held out from previous workouts. Nevertheless, the entire roster will not be in lockstep. It’s too early to discuss which guys will have their work cut out for them, but for now I have my eyes on Tashaun Gipson, Vincent Mayle, and Phil Taylor as athletes who I would like to see have hot starts in July.

Can the Offense Flex their Muscles? 

It’s been said that ninety percent of the offensive playbook has been installed by the end of the minicamp. Therefore, the eleven on that side of that ball should have (at least) a decent understanding on what to do on every single play. It’s no surprise that the Browns have a solid defense – which will likely improve in their second season under coordinator Jim O’Neil. Therefore, can John DeFilippo exploit matchup problems for his team’s defense? Here’s hoping the new faces in the backfield, under center, and at wide out can make an impact immediately.

Have the Special Teams Turned the Corner?

New punter, new long snapper, and a new kicker – all of which are factually correct for the 2015 Cleveland Browns. Andy Lee is a huge upgrade, and the other two spots should hopefully be improved as well – but I’m less confident there. Another huge key is to have a threat in the return game. This was a gigantic downfall for the team last season. Can a Duke Johnson, Justin Gilbert, or someone else provide a spark that the offense needs to have a great shot at finding the end zone on a more consistent basis? July’s practices will be a good litmus test to see whether the team has moved on from Travis Benjamin.

Conclusion: There is a ton of time until training camp and many questions that need to be answered during that period. Ideally the (entire) team will hit the ground running, trade punches between offense and defense, and improve greatly upon a unit that glaringly underperformed last season. I cannot wait to see what this team is capable of and am confident the Browns can build upon their 7 – 9 record from last season.

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