Plumbing the Depths of the Chart

With a handful of practices in the books, Lane takes a look at how the depth chart at several key positions is shaping up -- yes, including the you-know-what position...

The customary depth chart established by teams and utilized as a tool for motivating players has been nonexistent in the early days of training camp.

As the Browns keep rotating players in and out of roles, its obvious the coaching staff has some ideas, yet are not committed to supplying this simple informational piece, leaving all to ponder.

Maybe, just maybe head coach Eric Mangini was honest in noting all players are going to get an opportunity to thrive on the practice fields.

By the practice session, various players on the roster have seen their roles changing. The starting offensive line has been in constant change from the outset. The QBs rotate with the first and second team more than any time in recent memory, while the CB's rotate consistently.

Outside of LT Joe Thomas, the offensive line has been a revolving door of mixing and matching talents of players. Eric Steinbach receives about 2/3 of reps at the LG spot, and rightfully so as backup Rex Hadnot is workmanlike but does not produce at the level of Steinbach in practice sessions. If Steinbach can maintain weight and physicality, he will be the starting LG.

As rookie center Alex Mack develops, he is the heir-apparent to replace Hank Fraley, but at the present time the rookie has done nothing to grab the spot from a veteran, much less earn the opportunity.

The right side of the offensive line is up for grabs, but veteran Floyd Womack has been a semi-regular at RG and done well in drills, while Ryan Tucker and John St. Clair split reps at the RT position. St. Clair has been solid, Tucker has come to life once getting his feet under him with the first team -- though I really believe Tucker's greatest contribution could be at RG, as he is not as quick and technical to seal the corner.

As Mangini openly noted throughout the spring and to this day, the QB reps will be split evenly. As even as the reps have been, the competition between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn could not be closer -- on the practice field.

Neither player has emerged as "the guy", the talent that stands head and shoulders above the rest at this critical position. On any given day, either player can appear to takes steps in becoming the unquestioned leader, only to watch the other perform on the same level.

At a position which requires consistency and stability, the duo of Quinn and Anderson appears to be a roller-coaster ride. This is a battle, if it goes in the manner it has in these early camp sessions, could come down to the wire -- so long as there are no preconceived issues involved in the process.

The cornerback position, thought to be an area of potential weakness due to lack of experience, talent and depth during the off-season, has fared well in training camp.

Holdovers Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald are thriving in early camp practice sessions. This surge comes from a change in mentality within the entire staff, as well as the players involved. Helping matters is a defensive coordinator that believes in allowing players to play to their strengths -- and making the game fun by attacking the opposition.

Beside the aforementioned incumbents, veteran Rod Hood and Corey Ivy have stepped in to provide quality depth, the likes of which haven't been seen wearing the orange and brown for quite some time.

Mangini and coordinator Rob Ryan have been solid in getting each of these four players time with the starting unit, along with looks in different situational roles the cornerbacks will face on game day. If this Browns team can generate any semblance of a pass rush, the play at corner could be interesting and a major part of the success of this team heading into the 2009 season.

The position is four-deep with Wright, McDonald, Hood and Ivy. Then you add Coye Francies, a promising talent seeking the opportunity to shine. Prior to injuring his shoulder, rookie Don Carey was productive in reps in the defensive backfield and could be in the mix as well.

Training camp has just begun, but one cannot help but notice the change in atmosphere and player proficiency at the Browns' Berea facility.

Much like the season will be, training camp is a lengthy process. Those who come out the gate may not be the last man standing, but we are seeing some encouraging signs in practice sessions.

Now, let the games begin -- which should separate the men from the boys.

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