Camp Preview: Three Goals

Eight days and counting until the rookies arrive. Here are three goals the Cleveland Browns have for training camp, and some other assorted Browns news and notes as we wait for the action to start again...

Training camp goals.

1. Settle on a starting quarterback.

None of the three primary quarterbacks - Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson or rookie Brady Quinn - ended minicamp last month as the clear starter. All three will get equal playing time in the early weeks of training camp, but before the third preseason game if not sooner Coach Romeo Crennel would like to settle on a starter so that player could get the bulk of practice the rest of the summer.

The plan of dividing the playing time equally would change if Quinn is involved in a long holdout, and as the 22nd pick in the first round a holdout is a possibility.

Anderson proved he has the strongest arm among the competitors, but that won't be enough to win the job. Crennel is not forgetting Anderson started three games last year, played one half of another, and threw eight interceptions. That projects to 36 picks for the season.

Frye spent most of last season running for his life. It will be interesting to see if he stays in the pocket behind an improved offensive line that includes guard Eric Steinbach and rookie Joe Thomas.

2. Keep Kellen Winslow Jr. healthy.

Winslow had microfracture knee surgery on Jan. 30. He did not participate in OTAs or the June minicamp. The Browns insist he will be ready for training camp, but even if he is, Crennel will err on the side of caution with Winslow's recovery.

As logical as that sounds, babying Winslow so he does not have a setback also has some drawbacks. Rob Chudzinski has introduced a different scheme as offensive coordinator, and the players who ran it in May and June had their problems learning. Winslow was attentive in the classroom and he was on the sideline when he wasn't with the trainers, but watching and being on the field aren't the same. It is an offense based on timing routes.

One reason the quarterbacks have not looked sharp is the other players are having trouble knowing exactly what to do. Not being able to participate because of the injury has put Winslow behind everyone else.

3. Improve run defense.

General Manager Phil Savage went into the offseason knowing he would not be able to fix everything at once. He made a point to improve the offensive line and mortgaged his 2008 first-round draft choice to get a quarterback in Quinn.

The area that will have to wait until next year is the defensive line. Savage added right defensive end Robaire Smith in free agency to replace Alvin McKinley and got a nose tackle (hopefully) for the future in Shaun Smith. Neither player is Pro Bowl caliber, and left end Orpheus Roye is entering his 12th season. Last year he missed seven games with three separate injuries.

Stopping the run begins on the line. It has been a perennial problem; last year the Browns were 29th vs. the run. Ted Washington is in the last year of his two-year contract with the Browns. He started 16 games in 2006 and played better than he was given credit for. He needs better support from the ends.


CAMP CALENDAR: Rookies report for their first practice July 23. The first full-squad practice of training camp is July 27. Camp closes Aug. 23. The Browns do not scrimmage another team but they will stage an intrasquad scrimmage at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Aug. 3.

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Browns added another receiver to their roster by signing Maurice Mann, originally a fifth-round draft choice by the Bengals in 2004. The 6-1, 190-pound player from Nevada has also been with the Dolphins, Seahawks and Vikings, mostly on practice squads. He played in one game with the Vikings last year.

--It is now official; kicker Phil Dawson is the last player left from the 1999 expansion team. Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon started training camp last summer as the only 1999 draft pick still on the team, but he spent the season on injured reserve. McCutcheon was released earlier this year.

--If Charlie Frye is not the starting quarterback this season it means the Browns will have a different starter for the sixth consecutive year. Tim Couch was the starter in 2002 followed by Kelly Holcomb in 2003, Jeff Garcia in 2004, Trent Dilfer in 2005 and Frye last season. Not surprisingly, the Browns are 19-45 over the last four seasons.

--Cornerback Leigh Bodden is eager for training camp after missing the OTAs and June minicamp recovering from offseason ankle surgery. He plans to be on the field for the start of camp July 27 and take back his starting job from Kenny Wright, who played in his place in offseason drills while Bodden mended.

"It really wasn't mentioned during the (2006) season but it wasn't getting any better," Bodden said. "I decided after the year to go ahead and get the surgery done before the season started. I feel good right now. Sometimes I do get a little pain here and there but I'll be fine."

Ankle injuries forced Bodden to miss seven games last year.


QUOTE TO NOTE: "Now-a-days, guys are used to the routine. It's a lot like it is in college. Once the Bowl games are over you go right back into winter conditioning, to spring ball, to summer workouts then right back into full practice. Guys now-a-days are used to it." -- Wide receiver Braylon Edwards on football being a year-round sport.


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