Rumors? Just the facts, please!

Surrounding nearly every team in professional sports are rumors and speculation. In Cleveland the situation is much the same, despite the national media seemingly looking at the Browns as a ‘joke' for the better part of 13 years.

With the talent acquisition plan being utilized by general manager Tom Heckert, the Browns could be on the verge of being relevant outside the Cleveland area, and chatter about the team has sharply increased.

Surrounding nearly every team in professional sports are rumors and speculation. In Cleveland the situation is much the same, despite the national media seemingly looking at the Browns as a ‘joke' for the better part of 13 years.

With the talent acquisition plan being utilized by general manager Tom Heckert, the Browns could be on the verge of being relevant outside the Cleveland area, and chatter about the team has sharply increased.

The Browns………………

-- have discussed their options at OLB, in the event Kaluka Maivia and rookie James-Michael Johnson don't play at an acceptable level in training camp practice sessions and in pre-season games. With veteran Scott Fujita scheduled to miss the first three games of the season due to a league suspension, the Browns cannot afford mediocrity. At the present the Browns are staying the course, but we are hearing the Browns are keeping all their options open.

-- we hear the Browns have decided they will not move starting MLB D'Qwell Jackson to OLB. In certain situations, Jackson may slide to the outside, but he will not gain a fulltime role in the absence of Fujita, and while the team sorts out who will ultimately replace OLB Chris Gocong, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon last week in practice.

-- are very satisfied with the progress of their two rookie DT's, John Hughes and Billy Winn. Hughes has gained significant reps with the first team and played well in the preseason opener, while Winn after a slow start has come on strong in recent practice sessions and played reasonably well against the Lions, Friday night.

-- are giving DT Scott Paxson a legitimate opportunity to gain the starting role next to Ahytba Rubin. Paxson has been splitting reps with Hughes at DT and continues to display a high motor and ability to scrap within the interior of the defensive line. Paxson may be an underdog, but he is a fighter and players such as he finds ways to stick and help teams. Paxson suffered what is believed to be knee strain and may not play Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers.

-- are pleased with injured starting DT Phil Taylor's rehab of his surgically repaired pectoral muscle. Taylor has been stretching and lifting to strengthen the pectoral region and is ahead of schedule in his recovery.

-- like the competition growing in the defensive backfield. T.J. Ward has returned from injury and is having a good camp. Eric Hagg appears to be the starter opposite Ward. It's those seeking roles where the battles get interesting. Rookie CB Trevin Wade is being noticed for his solid practice sessions and technique. 2011 training camp standout, DB James Dockery has taken reps at CB and S, looking increasingly comfortable. Rookie DB Johnson Bademosi and CB Tashaun Gipson are two rookies the Browns believe can play at the NFL level in time.

-- don't believe S Usama Young's hamstring injury will sideline the veteran for an extended period of time. Due to Young's absence, the door has been kicked open for the youth noted previously to gain valuable training camp reps.

-- have listed TE Evan Moore down the rungs of the depth chart due to his missing the first week of camp due to injury. Moore has been back on the field and has gotten up to speed quickly and has rotated through various personnel package groupings. Moore remains a valuable player for the Browns due to his ability to create match-up issues for the opposition, especially at a position where the starter (Ben Watson) has had multiple concussions and the backup on the depth chart is inexperienced.

-- have remained silent on the TE position in camp. The coaching staff is known to respect and appreciate the all-around game of veteran Alex Smith and the development displayed by Dan Gronkowski. The ultimate question may come down to, do the Browns keep a receiving TE such as Moore, or one of the two all-around type TE's (Smith and Gronkowski). A season ago the answer was an easy one, they keep the TE (Moore) that can stretch the field. Today, the answer isn't nearly as clear.

-- had been experiencing something they have viewed in Cleveland for an extended period of time, quality and depth at the RB position. Rookie Trent Richardson has been everything he was advertised to be when selected with the third pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, while second round selection from the 2010 draft, Montario Hardesty has looked explosive and strong in practice sessions. 2011 free agent acquisition Brandon Jackson has returned from a significant toe injury which sidelined him the entire 2011 season has been running strong and is a very good back out of the backfield.

-- signed RB Chris Ogbonnaya off the Houston Texans practice squad a season ago not knowing exactly what to expect. Ogbonnaya came into Cleveland and ran hard and effectively, which the Browns have not forgotten. While considered an underdog due to the selection of Richardson and return to good health with Hardesty and Jackson, he should land on a roster in the league, whether it be in Cleveland or somewhere else.

-- intend on keeping a close eye on the offensive line play, in practice sessions and into preseason games. Rookie Mitchell Schwartz has all but locked-up the starting RT job and there is great competition with veterans John Greco, Oniel Cousins and rookie Ryan Miller seeking a bigger role. Schwartz made a few errors in the Browns win over the Lions, but the coaching staff was satisfied overall. Presently, the Browns starting offensive line is set, but some around the team believe starting RG Shawn Lauvao may be the weak link. This one is worth watching.


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