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.
….organization is pleased with the performance of the team Thursday night in Green Bay. The team came out of the game basically injury free and the team improved its play from the week before against the Detroit Lions.
….coaching staff is satisfied with the run blocking coming from the offensive line. In the two preseason games, the RB's did a much better job hitting the hole and running to daylight against the Packers.
….OL Oneil Cousins didn't play well at left tackle or in his assignment on special teams to guard the wing.
….continue to watch with a keen eye the roster battles for the backup spots along the offensive line. OL John Greco is a shoo-in to make the team, while rookie Ryan Miller appears close to landing a spot. Others in the hunt for a position are Jarrod Shaw, Garth Gerhart, Dominic Alford and Stanley Daniels.
….are beginning to ‘really' believe RB Montario Hardesty can be counted upon to provide quality and depth to a RB position which has performed well throughout camp.
….haven‘t decided whether rookie RB Adonis Thomas will be a camp cut. The organization loves his speed, quickness and vision.
….have a developing issue to deal with at the RB position. Brandon Jackson has practiced well, but has yet to show the burst he had prior to injury a toe a year ago, which required surgery. Jackson was an excellent third down back, but with the continued showing of Thomas and Chris Ogbonnaya in camp, the Browns may ultimately pull a surprise when the roster is cut-down.
….from what this column is hearing may enter the season with three TE's on the roster. Veteran Ben Watson and second-year TE Jordan Cameron are the first two at the position, whereas as Evan Moore, Alex Smith and Dan Gronkowski could be battling for one remaining spot.
….coaches continues to challenge rookie CB Trevin Wade in practice and game conditions. Since walking into rookie camp in early May, Wade has continued to grow as a player. The Browns coaching staff wanted to throw him in against the Packers starters Thursday night and see how he'd do. Well, the coaching staff came away impressed and Wade remains a very strong candidate to make the team.
….will make some difficult decisions when cutting the roster to 53-players in early September. The defensive backfield is an area which the youth has gotten the attention of the staff, as has the talent at the LB spots. The youth in both areas of depth may be a little too much for the Browns to feel comfortable with heading into the season.
….are very happy with the way Weeden came back and played against the Green Bay Packers. Coming off an effort a week earlier in Detroit which was up and down, Weeden stood tall in the pocket and made good throws and reads. One thing to remember, the Browns are not showing much of their offensive scheme in these preseason games.
….have kept a close eye on the progress QB Colt McCoy has made in camp. The Browns have never saw McCoy throw the ball better or make progression reads as well as he is at this point. The Browns may not be too quick to deal McCoy, as he has clearly been better than veteran Seneca Wallace and Thaddeus Lewis in camp.
….have not engaged in any trade talks for McCoy or Wallace recently.
….rookie RB Trent Richardson is doing very well in rehabbing his left knee following a procedure. The Browns remain hopeful the rookie will be ready prior to the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
…. MLB D'Qwell Jackson has been nursing a sore shoulder and is likely to practice at some point over the next few days.Jackson has been working out, but the coaching staff sees no reason to push him back onto the field until he is 100%.
….DT Phil Taylor (pectoral surgery) could be back by late October.
….rookie WR Travis Benjamin will be able to be full-go in practice this upcoming week, the staff may limit his work load.
….TE Ben Watson could be back on the practice field this upcoming week. The Browns are being cautious with injuries, wanting to get all the bodies healthy for the season.