OPEN CAMP: July 27, Browns Training Facility, Berea, Ohio.
LAST YEAR: Coach Hue Jackson’s first season started with 14 straight losses and finished as worst in franchise history. Once again, Browns were decimated by costly injuries, forcing them to shuffle through quarterbacks and offensive linemen. With one of league’s youngest rosters, Browns were barely competitive, and while front office insisted it wasn’t throwing away season, team was able to stockpile draft picks to build with.
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IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: OL Kevin Zeitler, rookie DE Myles Garrett, DB Jason McCourty, rookie QB DeShone Kizer, OL JC Tretter, QB Brock Osweiler, WR Kenny Britt, rookie TE David Njoku, rookie DB Jabrill Peppers.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: WRs Terrelle Pyror and Andrew Hawkins, TE Gary Barnidge, QBs Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown, DB Tramon Williams.
CAMP NEEDS: Browns still don’t have long-term answer at quarterback, but Kizer, drafted in second round, could be closest team has to solution. Former Notre Dame QB made strides during minicamp and could push way past Cody Kessler and Osweiler on depth chart. WR Cory Coleman struggled with injuries as rookie last season and Browns need him to take major step forward as playmaker. Defense has chance to be much better with No. 1 overall pick Garrett and Desmond Bryant, back after missing last season, as primary pass rushers. Cornerback Joe Haden has to stay healthy.
EXPECTATIONS: Browns have upgraded talent throughout roster, but it’s still going to take time to be threat in AFC North. Resolving quarterback issue – Cleveland has started 26 QBs since 1999 – still biggest issue facing team. Until that’s done, Browns can’t make major move forward. Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam are preaching patience, which should give Jackson and analytics-driven front office more time. However, team needs to show drastic improvement in 2017 or there could be more changes.
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