Listing the Five – What the Browns Need to See During Training Camp
It’s felt like months since I have been counting down the days when the Browns fill up Berea and hit the practice field. Well, that countdown is finally over – and the orange and brown are nearing the regular season. Obviously there will be highs and lows; as well as things to look forward to and some disappointments. Personally, the team needs to have (at least) five things happen in order to have a successful 2015 campaign. What are those things? Let’s delve further…
#1 – Cameron Erving Needs to Keep Pace
I anticipate the former Florida State lineman to at least be in the running for a starting gig with the Browns. Even if John Greco and Mitchell Schwartz man the right side of the gang; Erving must not fall behind the veterans in terms of picking up the offense and developing at the professional level. I expect this to be the case, but nothing is guaranteed in the NFL.
#2 – The Outside Linebackers Display Consistency
I am not including Paul Kruger in this conversation, as he has shown reliability in getting to opposing passers. However, Nate Orchard, Barkevious Mingo, Armonty Bryant, and Scott Solomon have to provide a reason for fans to believe they can regularly make an impact this fall. Working on multiple releases off the line of scrimmage is key by this group. Allegedly, Mingo has been praised by the coaching staff for his coverage ability – if this is the case, I envision him lining up with Kruger in the role of the starter.
#3 – Obtain a Pecking Order in the Running Back Group
Everyone is expecting one of the second-year backs to be the primary workhorse, with a dash of rookie Duke Johnson. Now is the time to see how things play out on the practice field – the team will likely not be full-contact most of the time, but the three backs should be able to carve out their roles. If the trio can work together (and avoid infighting as there was with Ben Tate in 2014), the Browns can have an exceptional rushing attack.
#4 – Figure out the Special Teams Units
Kicker, punt returner, kick returner – these are a few of the areas of which the Browns have to sort out during camp. Not only that, they must put the best guy at those positions on the field. The Browns were one of the worst punt return units in the entire league last year; even getting to a respectable level could really help this offense. It can be debated that Billy Cundiff cost the Browns a pair of games in 2014; this cannot occur if the 2015 club wants to have a solid record.
#5 – A Few Undrafted Rookies Standing Apart
Every year, a couple guys seem to come from out of nowhere to make the squad and contribute at a high level. Last year it was K’Waun Williams, Isaiah Crowell, and Taylor Gabriel who took the bull by the horns and made their mark with this team. I don’t know if there will be as many successful undrafted rookies this year, but I expect at least a few to improve this roster this fall. E.J. Bibbs is my leading candidate, as tight end is a spot where he could break in.