John Taylor: My Fifty-Three

Hey Romeo! Take the weekend off! JT has done all the work and has narrowed down the your roster from its bloated state of 75 players down to a slim-and-trim 53-man unit.

According to head coach Romeo Crennel, there are "about four positions which will take considerable discussion" when it comes to determining the final 53-man roster.

As a public service—and because I'm bored as it's a slow news day and way too early to start drinking alcohol in order to entertain myself—The OBR DN&WR will branch out and hazard a guess as to what the four positions are and our reasoning behind each selection.

("Reasoning" meaning "the voices in my head have come to a consensus".)

First and foremost, it seems patently obvious that the running back position is one of the groups spoken of by the head coach.

Reuben Droughnsand rookie Jerome Harrison are mortal locks at the position.  Fullbacks Terrelle Smith and rookie Lawrence Vickers are as close to 100% locks as they could possibly be, which likely leaves one spot for the likes of William Green, Lee Suggs, Jason Wright and fullback Corey McIntyre.

Suggs was traded and didn't play in the pre-season dress rehearsal, so he's likely gone either via a trade or by The Turk's axe.  Wright is not eligible for the practice squad, which would have given the Browns an option for keeping him.

That leaves Green and McIntyre fighting for the fifth and final spot.  Since it's unusual for a team to keep three FBs, it seems as though McIntyre would be in jeopardy.  However, McIntyre's special teams' ability and Vickers versatility and ability to play both the FB and TB positions would seem to make Green vulnerable.

My somewhat educated guess—along with a magic eight-ball—has Green staying and McIntyre facing the chopping block along with Suggs and Wright. 

(Although it would come as no shock were the Browns to keep the three fullbacks and send Green packing as well as the other two RBs.  Or, keep only Droughns, Harrison, Smith and Vickers in order to open a spot for another position for that matter.)

The next somewhat obvious position of discussion would have to be cornerback.  And, given the injuries that have mildly riddled this position, we'll go with six as the number of positions up for grabs.

Of the nine corners currently on the roster, three of them are locks to make the roster, although two of are currently nursing injuries and are somewhat questionable for the season opener: Leigh Bodden, Gary Baxter (pectoral muscle) and Daylon McCutcheon (knee).

That leaves three spots for six players who are not exactly reasonable facsimiles of Lester Hayes.  Or Les Nessman, for that matter.

Ralph Brownand Pete Hunter would seem to have an edge based simply on their experience and having started games in the NFL in the past.  Consider them "well, that's all we have, so, well, I guess if I have to" selections.

This leaves us with the "best" of what's left: Antonio Perkins, Daven Holly and Therrian Fontenot duking it out (flailing like chicks in a cat fight?) for the final spot.

To be honest, when you get down to choosing between Perkins, Holly and Fontenot, it's kind of like picking out who sucked the least between Shemp Howard, Joe Besser and Curly Joe DeRita.

With that in mind, we'll take Perkins as the Shemp of the lesser three stooges, based simply on the fact that he's only in his second year and has shown some flashes this training camp when healthy.

With the first two of Crennel's four positions out of the way, let's move on to the last pair of positions up for grabs.

The tight end, quarterback (there'll be three on the roster, whether it be those currently here or an outsider that is brought in), defensive line (rookie Babatunde Oshinowo will suddenly develop a partially torn finger nail or will be placed on the practice squad) and safety positions seem somewhat set.

That would leave wide receiver, offensive line and linebacker up for grabs.

As I cannot decide which one of the three should go, I'll just take all three and call them two.

(I can do that.  I have the power.)

First, the offensive line.

Ryan Tucker, Joe Andruzzi, Kevin Shaffer, Cosey Coleman, Ross Tucker and Lennie Friedman have made the final 53.

Assuming that only nine linemen are retained, there are just three openings for the remaining eight players currently listed on the depth chart.

Since both Ross Tucker and Friedman have the ability to play guard, two of the following three players will likely be left off the final roster: Dave Yovanovits, Isaac Sowells and Andrew Hoffman.

A likely course of action would be for the Browns to place Hoffman—who is currently still working on the switch from defensive to offensive lineman—on the practice squad and stash Sowells on either injured reserve or the PUP list, with Yovanovits being a primary backup to both Coleman and Andruzzi.

At tackle, both Nat Dorsey and Kirk Chambers are somewhat safe, if for no other reason than there are no other viable backup options currently on the roster.

That would leave Rob Smith and Jonathan Dunn as the remaining cuts, with a decision to be made on Alonzo Ephraim when he returns from his four-game suspension to start the season.

At wide receiver, the battle comes down to the fifth slot; assuming, of course, that the club only keeps five and does not keep six due to concerns about the health of Braylon Edwards.

Edwards, Joe Jurevicius and Dennis Northcutt are in.  As the primary kickoff returner and do to his rapid development at a new position, Josh Cribbs is likewise in.

That's four definites, which, of course, leaves three receivers for one opening: Travis Wilson, Frisman Jackson and Kendrick Mosely.

Now that I think about it, it's not really much of a competition as Wilson, based on his third-round draft status and impressing the staff for most of camp and the pre-season, is also likely in.

So, goodbye Frisman and Kendrick.  We hardly knew ye.

(Although Mosely could be a practice squad candidate.)

That brings us to the final position battle: linebacker.

The outside linebackers, of which there will likely be four, are set in stone: Willie McGinest, Matt Stewart, Kamerion Wimbley and David McMillan are set in stone, so adios (that means "goodbye" in French) Justin Kurpeikis and Nick Speegle.

Three inside linebackers have made the final roster: Andra Davis, D'Qwell Jackson and Chaun Thompson.  Another, rookie Leon Williams, has shown enough flash and burst to all but guarantee a roster spot.

So, once again, we are down to two spots for one player:  Mason Unck and Clifton Smith.  In spite of Unck's special teams capabilities, it's not enough to trump Smith's measureables, athleticism and potential.

So there you have it.  One man's look at how the final 53-man roster may or may not shakeout.

Feel free to blast away.


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