The newest round of coaching changes for the Cleveland Browns will certainly put many players' roster spots in flux over the coming months. However, tight end Jordan Cameron isn't one of them. The addition of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan only means good things for Cameron, who is in his fourth year in the league and heading into his second season as a starter.
Shanahan's history in the NFL, which includes a stint with the Houston Texans before joining his father, Mike Shanahan, in Washington, features a heavy use of tight ends in the passing game. As long as the Browns have consistency in the quarterback position this year, Cameron could certainly be one of the team's leading receivers.
He was heavily involved in the Browns offense in 2013, under offensive coordinator Norv Turner and head coach Rob Chudzinski. He played 1,008 offensive snaps according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required) and caught 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns, making him Cleveland's second-most productive receiver on the year.
However, Cameron struggled with the many quarterback changes. The first half of his season was far more productive than the second half. Aside from his 121 receiving yards against the New England Patriots in December, his best performance from Week 9 on netted him only 69 yards. It's a sign that his transition from basketball to the NFL and from a bit player to a starter wasn't a smooth one.
He'll have a chance to really get the hang of his job this year under Shanahan, whose history suggests that Cameron will again play a high number of offensive snaps and have a significant number of targets and receptions.
Look at Texans tight end Owen Daniels' 2008 season (2009 was marred by injury) and you see a snaps breakdown similar to Cameron's in 2013.
|Player||Year||Snaps||Run||Pass||Run Block||Pass Block||Snap%|
via Pro Football Focus. Starters with full seasons only.
Daniels played 1,036 offensive snaps, with zero as a rusher, 535 as a receiver, 424 as a run-blocker and 77 in pass protection. Cameron's snap breakdown last season was zero as a rusher, 644 as a receiver, 307 as a run-blocker and 57 as a pass protector. Daniels played 96.2 percent of all offensive snaps in 2008, while Cameron was on the field for 93.2 percent of Cleveland's snaps in 2013.
This pattern continued in Washington, starting with Chris Cooley in 2010 and then with Fred Davis in 2011 (Davis split on-field time with Logan Paulsen in 2012 and was usurped by Jordan Reed in 2013). Cooley played 1,022 offensive snaps in 2010, with zero as a rusher, 590 as a receiver, 365 as a run-blocker and 67 in pass protection and was on the field for 95 percent of Washington's offensive plays.
Davis played 763 snaps in 2011, with zero as a rusher, 433 as a receiver, 270 as a run-blocker and 60 in pass protection, totaling 93.5 percent of all of Washington's snaps. So expect Cameron to spend a lot of time on the field this season.
His targets as a receiver, however, will be determined by the quality of the other receivers on the field as well as how dedicated the Browns are to passing.
Cameron was used so heavily in 2013 because beyond Josh Gordon, the Browns had few reliable receiving targets. Their lack of a run game also meant a lot of passes being thrown by Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, necessitating Cameron catching so much.
Shanahan's tight ends have had varied numbers of receptions. Daniels had 70 catches in 2008, and then 40 in 2009; Cooley had 77 in 2010 while Davis followed that up with 59 in 2011. Between Davis and Paulsen, the pair combined for 49 receptions in 2012 while Reed had 45 catches in 2013.
Though Cameron seems poised to be heavily involved in Cleveland's offense this year, it's hard to predict how many catches he'll have. There's also the matter of Shanahan's seeming willingness to make changes at the position as he sees fit.
Cameron's margin for error, especially as a second-year starter and fourth-year player, is going to be quite slim. He cannot disappear in the latter half of the season or falter with a potentially unfamiliar quarterback throwing him passes. Shanahan will find someone else to be Cleveland's starting tight end if that happens. He's shown this willingness before.
However, if Cameron clicks with his quarterback—whoever that may be—and with Shanahan's system, he looks poised to have another productive season. Shanahan is not an old-school type coach in regards to the tight end position. Blocking is good, of course, but being a dynamic receiver is of the highest premium now. Cameron has shown those skills and thus should be given every opportunity to flourish in 2014.