BEREA, Ohio--When the Browns decided to part ways with former Pro Bowl safeties Donte Whitner and Tashaun Gipson after last season, they took a calculated risk.
The heir apparent to become the Browns new starting duo at safety have a combined five starts between them in the NFL. Jordan Poyer started four games last season for the Browns after primarily playing on special teams in his first three seasons. Poyer finished the season with 37 tackles and two interceptions. Poyer was originally a seventh-round choice of the Eagles, but he has flashed when given the opportunity to play.
Ibraheim Campbell started one game and had 10 tackles. Campbell was a fourth-round draft choice of the Browns in 2015 out of Northwestern. His lone game was on a Thursday Night game with the Bengals when Gipson was unable to play. He finished with five tackles.
Poyer is listed as the starting free safety and Campbell the strong safety in the first depth chart leading up to the preseason opener with Green Bay, but is subject to change.
“I think as we go through these games, it will all play itself out," secondary coach Louis Cioffi said. "They’ll continue to work. We’ve drafted obviously at that position, and at the end of the day, the best players will play.”
The Browns drafted Derrick Kindred in the fourth-round this year and he is listed behind Campbell. Rahim Moore, a free agent signed during the off-season is listed as Poyer's backup right now.
Campbell feels he's earned the job after taking all the reps during the spring.
“Absolutely, it was a tremendous opportunity to come in and be running with the ones this year," Campbell said. "I made sure that I kind of did everything that I could in preparation for that opportunity. I’ve just been working every day to make sure that I took full advantage of it and was ready to go.”
Campbell thinks the experience available to him in the preseason will help him prepare for the regular season.
“Extremely important because no matter how much film you watch on those type of things, there’s no substitute for experiences so I’m cherishing every opportunity that I have on the field, every rep that I get in practice," he said. "Whether it be individual drills, whether it be team drills, 7-on-7, I’m always trying to make sure that I’m making the most of those reps to be productive on the field.”
Campbell attributes his versatility to being a key to his game.
“I think one of my biggest strengths is my versatility," he said. "I see myself as someone who can play down in the box, really create turnovers in the box, whether that be forcing fumbles, whatever. Also, I play high, but at the free safety position being able to break on balls and catch interceptions, as well. I think my versatility is probably one of my biggest strengths.”
Cioffi likes what Campbell brings to the defense.
“First of all, he’s a very diligent player," he said. "He studies hard. He’s been great in the offseason. I think he’ll bring a physical nature to the position, and he’s a player that can adjust and play in space, as well.”
Other players in the m ix at safety besides Moore and Kindred are Pierre Desir, Don Jones, Tim Scott and Sean Baker.
“Right now, we have guys moving around in different spots," Cioffi said. "Like I said, you are what you put on tape, and we’ll see how it all shakes out.”
Coleman Still Idle: WR Corey Coleman (hamstring) continued to rest along with WR Josh Gordon (quad), WR Andrew Hawkins (hamstring), DB Trey Caldwell (hamstring), DL Nile Lawrence-Stample (leg), TE Seth DeValve (hamstring) and WR Dennis Parks (unknown). The addition of Parks gives the Browns four receivers idle.
Gordon Close: Jackson was asked if Gordon is close to practicing.
“Hopefully soon," he said. "We’re working through our process with him. I think he’s getting closer each and every day. I’m looking forward to getting him out here on the field with the rest of the guys.”
Gordon showed up after being reinstated with a quad injury that prevented him from practicing. The original timetable was two weeks.
Return of Malcolm, Telfer: FB Malcolm Johnson returned to practice on Monday after being cleared from a concussion. Also, TE Randall Telfer was back at practice.
No Hughes: DL John Hughes was not seen practicing for the sixth-straight practice due to personal reasons.
“It’s still a personal matter," Jackson said after practice. "I think at some point in time we’ll have an opportunity to talk about it, but it’s just a personal matter right now.”
DL Nick Hayden, a recently signed veteran from the Cowboys is Hughe's replacement.
Hall of Famer Speaks: Former Browns wide receiver and Hall of Famer Paul Warfield spoke to the team as a group before practice on Tuesday.
"Any time you can have one of our own speak to the team, I'm going to let them."