Adkins: Gameday Player Watch

OBR football analyst Lane Adkins urges fans to pay close attention to these performances during today's game...

- Defensive lineman Swanson Miller and Derreck Robinson are vying for a depth role along the defensive line. Miller has consistently improved throughout training camp, while Robinson has shown some flashes in the past couple weeks. Miller has played well in each pre-season game against second and third team type opposition, while Robinson displayed power and quickness a week ago against the St. Louis Rams.

- Rookie safety T.J. Ward continues to develop and could become the man who fills the void in the defensive backfield. Ward is extremely active and aggressive. His next step is to improve his recognition responsibilities and utilize his athleticism to offset his minor height disadvantage, especially against the TE's.

- As with Ward, Abe Elam must become consistent and factor in the scheme. Elam plays the run better than the pass, and can struggle in coverage in open space. The lack of a veteran presence and depth are concerning, much rides on Elam playing a solidifying role.

- CB Brandon McDonald has had a strong training camp and played well in the pre-season opener. Against the Rams a week ago, McDonald had some issues in coverage and let himself be bodied. With the talent level improved at the CB position, McDonald cannot afford to stick out on the tape in a negative way... an important role in the dime and perhaps nickel schemes are at stake.

- With D'Qwell Jackson sidelined due to injury, two off-season acquisitions now man the ILB spots for the Browns. Veteran Scott Fujita had been seeing significant practice time at OLB, but has moved primarily inside since the Jackson injury to partner with Chris Gocong. Both Fujita and Gocong have been active in practice and game conditions, as both learn the Browns defensive scheme. Early results show the two LB's improving the Browns inside run defense with the increased physical style that head coach Eric Mangini and defensive coordinator want to see.

- Every body that can play on the right-side of the offensive line will be under the microscope Saturday in Detroit. Tony Pashos has had limited practice time due to illness and injury, John St. Clair has missed practice time, while Scott Kooistra has fared reasonably well as RT and LT. An injury to veteran lineman Floyd Womack has created further questions, with rookie Shawn Lauvao and Billy Yates gaining reps with the starting and backup line units.

- Josh Cribbs is gaining valuable reps at wide receiver and indications are the quarterbacks are increasingly starting to trust the work-in-process fan favorite. Cribbs needs to learn how to gain separation on a consistent basis and make himself a viable visual option in the passing game.

- The quarterbacks remain a focal point and rightfully so. Jake Delhomme has had a solid training camp and has efficiently led the offense. The Browns passing game, through consistently focused on the short to intermediate routes, has been effective with the veteran under center. Backup Seneca Wallace has done a solid job in keeping plays alive and throwing accurate passes, but does display a tendency to force the issue at times.

- A roster spot for QB Brett Ratliff could depend on strong outings during the last two pre-season contests. While performing better than 2010 third-round selection Colt McCoy, Ratliff does not have the luxury of heading toward roster cut downs with coaching patience and a "developmental" label to hang a hat on. Ratliff has been hot and cold in camp practice sessions, with the same being queued up in his pre-season game performances.

- Veteran TE Robert Royal has had a solid summer for the Browns. A season ago, Royal dropped many catchable balls, thanks in part to a finger injury. Evan Moore was signed to the active roster late in the season and impressed, which has continued through training camp. The acquisition of Ben Watson provides the Browns with a legitimate and experienced pass receiver at the position. The Browns love Royal's ability to block and recognize he is catching the ball well presently, staking his claim to one of the three likely TE roster spots. Alex Smith and Joel Gamble are in camp, but unlikely to unseat the three before-mentioned players.

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