QUESTIONS AT ILB: Following a lengthy (and, at times, turbulent) dialogue between the Browns and the representative for ILB D'Qwell Jackson, the upcoming training camp will be a very interesting time for the player. Jackson made no bones about his unhappiness regarding his contract.
In what could be his money season, Jackson is not guaranteed a starting role at ILB. The coaching staff continues to develop David Veikune, while Chris Gocong, Jason Trusnik, David Bowens and Scott Fujita garner reps. Both parties involved note there are no hard feelings, but the Browns have certainly have gone outside the organization to address the inside linebacker spots again this off-season.
Another ILB with a great deal of uncertainty surrounding him is veteran Eric Barton. Barton came to the Browns as a free agent a season ago and started inside alongside Jackson until a neck injury derailed his season. Heading into training camp, Barton could end-up on the PUP list, and his career could be in jeopardy.
MORE ON STEINBACH: With my inbox housing no less than eight messages regarding a portion of my WWBT article on Tuesday, I'll elaborate further.
Starting LG Eric Steinbach has dealt with back and shoulder injuries over the past two seasons. Looking back on the hire of head coach Eric Mangini in early 2009 and into the camp sessions, we discussed Steinbach as not being a true fit in the scheme.
In training camp sessions a year ago, Steinbach was taking reps with the second team offense -- as well as gaining reps at LT, on the second team.
Due to the scheme issue, injury potential, contract and potential emergence of rookie Shawn Lauvao, Steinbach at some point could be in a precarious position.
EVERYONE LOVES A SKILL POSITION CONTROVERSY: As those reporting on the Browns appear poised to draw attention to a potential RB controversy, the real story is what is transpiring behind the scenes.
To a man, those within the decision making process for the Browns would love to see rookie RB Montario Hardesty run wild in training camp. At present, however, the thought process is to level a two-headed attack on the opposition, with Hardesty and Jerome Harrison sharing the toting of the rock.
Hardesty is immensely talented and appears to have all the attributes required to be a solid professional RB -- excellent speed, good initial burst, power lower body and very strong hands. One issue the coaching staff has discussed is Hardesty's upright running style, as more lean will help enable the rookie to get to where he is always going/falling forward and should help eliminate ‘big' hits.
As for Harrison, he has gained the trust of the staff, but questions remain regarding his durability -- can he carry the ball 20-plus times per game? His tremendous finish to the season elevated the veteran RB into a position where he can grasp the starting role. Ultimately, though, production in the current scheme - knowing the organization just selected their RB of the future - will determine his fate.
RECEIVING AN OPPORTUNITY: With training camp around the corner, WR's Carlton Mitchell and Johnathan Haggerty could gain plenty of opportunities, early and often. The coaching staff likes the speed, quickness and size of these two rookies, who have been described as having a high ceiling.
In the case of Mitchell, the staff loves his long frame and potential for yardage after the reception. In Haggerty, the Browns see the potential of a young WR with much better than advertised athleticism.