New-look Browns report for camp Wednesday

Retooled roster breeds optimism that a big turnaround is in the offing

Daryl Ruiter
July 25, 2018 - 12:34 am
Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson walks away from the team after the completion of minicamp at the Cleveland Browns training facility.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – There are a lot of new faces in Brownstown this year so if you’re headed to training camp in Berea over the next few weeks, you’ll need a roster.

Of the 76 players that were under club control as of Dec. 31, 2017, 33 of them were cut or traded this offseason as general manager John Dorsey worked overtime to overhaul a team that won 4 games over the last 3 seasons combined, including going 1-31 the last 2 years under head coach Hue Jackson.

For Jackson, who enters his third season at the helm, the excuses are now gone.

Dorsey has provided Jackson with legitimate NFL talent on both sides of the football, starting at quarterback with Tyrod Taylor, acquired in March from Buffalo, this offseason.

Taylor was immediately given a weapon to throw to by Dorsey, who also traded for former Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry. Landry has 400 catches combined over his first 4 seasons and he signed a 5-year extension that could be worth as much as $75 million in April. To put the importance of adding Landry into perspective, his 9 touchdowns in 2017 were 2 more than Cleveland’s entire receiving corps combined.  

The news that Josh Gordon will not report on time for camp so he can continue to seek treatment privately was disappointing, but for now it appears that he is not facing another suspension from the league, which is good news.

While Gordon’s absence at the outset of camp is a setback for him and the team, it also opens the door of opportunity for the rest of the receivers to shine.

Corey Coleman, a 2016 first-round pick, is in a make or break year along with fellow draft classmates Ricardo Louis and Rashard Higgins. Veteran Jeff Janis might be the most underrated signing this offseason for Dorsey while his selections of Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley in April also provide the Browns with a pair of intriguing rookie wideouts to watch.

The presence of Taylor at quarterback eliminates any pressure to play the No. 1 pick in the draft, Baker Mayfield, before the organization is ready to put him on the field. While Mayfield will be counted on to finally end the QB carousel, the 29th since 1999 – Taylor – has already been named the starter for Week 1 against Pittsburgh.

The signing of running back Carlos Hyde for 3 years and $15.25 million, selection of Nick Chubb 35th overall and a 3-year, $15.6 million extension for Duke Johnson gives Jackson and Haley a 3-headed monster in the backfield. How they’ll share the workload should be fun to figure out over the next 4 weeks.

Shon Coleman, picked in the third round of the 2016 draft, was freed up to compete at left tackle with the addition of Steelers free agent right tackle Chris Hubbard. Greg Robinson, a former No. 2 overall pick, was added last month to the mix as well but second round pick Austin Corbett should be expected to provide Coleman with the toughest challenge in replacing future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas.

Jackson also hired Todd Haley, who saw his contract not get renewed in Pittsburgh, as his offensive coordinator in January which should help with game management on gamedays.

Dorsey rebuilt the entire defensive backfield – except for safety Jabrill Peppers, who moves into a new role at strong safety – this offseason by signing cornerbacks EJ Gaines and Travis Carrie, trading for free safety Damarious Randall and drafting Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward fourth overall.   

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks was a late offseason addition that provides quality depth at linebacker behind incumbent starters Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert. Whether or not he could steal one of their starting jobs will be another storyline to follow.

Up front, defensive ends Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah are both healthy after seeing their 2017 seasons limited due to injury. The duo still combined for 11.0 sacks despite missing a combined 11 games between them.  

With a revamped roster, the Browns hope that this training camp is just the beginning of their march back to relevancy in 2018.

Vacation is over and now it's time for Jackson and the Browns to get to work.