More changes on the way
If you think this is the final 53-man roster for the Browns, stop. It’s not.
Right now, it is as fluid as water, especially in the middle and bottom end. A quick perusal reveals a few weak areas.
There is no way, for example, the Browns are going to carry only six offensive linemen. That’s just going to happen.
Obviously, they are not happy with the backups they brought in to stand ready in the event one of the stating five goes down. Only first-round draft pick Cameron Erving survived. But he disappointingly did not beat out any of the incumbents.
Look for at least one, more likely two pickups off the waiver wire as the other 31 clubs get down to the 53-man limit.
And there is no way the club will go with 11 defensive backs even though that appears to be coach Mike Pettine’s favorite position on that side of the ball. That’s an unusually high number for the secondary.
Keeping four tight ends was a bit of a surprise, especially since Rob Housler did not have a good training camp or exhibition season. The reason he was kept was probably because he is, by far, the best receiver among the group.
The Browns fully intend to make the running game the focal point of their offense this season. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of two tight-end sets – and two-back sets with rookie fullback Malcolm Johnson – in order to buttress the ground game and take pressure off quarterback Josh McCown.
Speaking of quarterbacks, slicing Thad Lewis off the roster was a bit of surprise. Either Johnny Manziel’s sore elbow is better or the Browns are otherwise taking a huge gamble if it’s not.
The reason Lewis was cut lies in the game tape of Thursday night’s 27-0 loss in the final exhibition in Chicago against the Bears. He was terrible at best. It appears the Browns would much rather gamble with an injured Manziel.
Why the Browns kept seven wide receivers is puzzling. If they are going to play button-down football on offense, they don’t need more than six. It’s obvious the coaching staff is intrigued with Terrelle Pryor to see what he can do as a wideout now that he is healthy. (See Marlon Moore thoughts in a previous commentary).
No big surprises elsewhere on defense outside of the number of defensive backs. The hybrid 3-4 scheme features eight linemen and eight linebackers (four inside, four outside). Look for the Browns to frequently use situational sub packages to keep everyone fresh. Expect a lot of rotating, especially in the trenches.
The not-so-final roster includes eight of the 12 picks in the last college draft. Only wide receiver Vince Mayle and inside linebacker Hayes Pullard III did not make it. Right end Randall Telfer and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu were placed on the reserve/non-football injury list.
Roster tidbits: Tight end E. J. Bibbs is the only undrafted rookie of the nine first-year players on the roster. . . . Of the final 53, 33 return from last season. . . . Everyone is new on special teams – punter/holder Andy Lee, placekicker Travis Coons and long snapper Charley Hughlett. . . . Newcomers elsewhere include defensive tackle Jamie Meder, a Cleveland native, and wide receiver Brian Hartline from the Canton area.