5 Cleveland Browns Players Who Will Surprise During Training Camp
Over the last few weeks we have extensively covered the fringe roster prospects for the Cleveland Browns. Whether it was training-camp sleepers or practice-squad candidates, it has been the “no name” players who have received the spotlight. That's not the case for this slideshow.
Here, we will discuss five players who will surprise in training camp but not in the traditional sense. None of these players will surprise because they will make the team or even grab a starting spot. They will all surprise for a variety of alternative reasons.
You will know the names of all five of these players and may even think that they could not do much to surprise you. You would be wrong.
Each and every one of these players can surprise in their own unique way. Let’s take a look at the five players who will surprise in Browns camp.
Normally it would be tough for a guy who just signed a two-year, $6.2 million contract and is line for his first starting job in the NFL to surprise. Unfortunately, Ben Tate will surprise fans in a way they might not like.
Tate is not the fastest back on the field, and he is also not the most physically impressive. He is 5’11,” 217 pounds and not nearly as bulky as some other backs in the league. Fortunately for Tate, when he hits the field, none of that matters.
Tate is not an impressive guy on paper, but his game film jumps off the screen. For this reason fans who attend training camp will probably be very surprised by Tate's seemingly underwhelming performance during camp.
First of all, the only running backs who truly shine in camp are smaller scat backs. There is no real contact, so speed will always look more impressive than vision. He will also probably take limited snaps in the preseason to conserve his health. Combine those two facts and fans may be in for a surprise when they head to Berea to take in practice.
Do not fret, however; Tate will be just fine once the regular season starts.
You may be asking yourself how the first player ever to win the Heisman as a freshman in college and who is entering the NFL with the most hype of any player in decade could surprise during training camp. Well, if anyone can do it, then it is Johnny Manziel.
Despite the amount of hype surrounding Manziel, he is still expected to start the season as the backup quarterback to Brian Hoyer. Even owner Jimmy Haslam is on record as saying Manizel will probably sit behind Hoyer.
The surprise will come when Manziel not only wins the starting job but does so in convincing fashion. To some this will be a surprise because they never thought his game would translate to the next level. For others it will be a surprise because they did not think he would be able to control his partying enough to win the job.
For everyone else they will just be surprised that a rookie cannot only start from Week 1, but he also will play good enough to compete and possibly even win in Pittsburgh. He has been exceeding expectations and surprising everyone his entire football career; why stop now?
Buster Skrine went from the fans' favorite punching bag in 2012, to a guy who played his tail off in 2013, and now he will be expected to fall back into the third-cornerback role behind Justin Gilbert. Just because he is expected to do that does not mean he will go down quietly, however.
Anyone who has ever seen Skrine play cornerback would describe his game as scrappy. He is always around the ball and never afraid to try and make a play. This has resulted in a large amount of pass-interference penalties in his first two seasons.
Anyone who has ever spoken to Skrine, as I have many times in the locker room, would describe his demeanor as intense and fiery. It seems like he always feels like the world is doubting his talents and abilities.
Of course that is how you get to the NFL as a 5’9” cornerback from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. So how will Skrine surprise you in training camp? Just watch him compete.
Skrine will not let the second-cornerback job go lightly and will make things very difficult for Gilbert. This is the best thing in the world for Gilbert because the young man will have to use every ounce of his will to knock Skrine down the depth chart. That is why you have guys like Skrine on your team in the first place.
The throwaway seventh-round pick from East-Central Oklahoma University is not an afterthought anymore. Last season defensive lineman Armonty Bryant made his presence felt every time he was able to get snaps in game situations.
He tallied eight tackles and two sacks in very limited playing time and opened a lot of people’s eyes. Bryant’s only issues have been off the field. He was arrested for selling marijuana during football practice in college and then for drunk driving after he was drafted.
Since then he has kept his nose clean and seems ready to surprise some people during training camp. In fact, those who think Bryant is just a rotational guy on the line will be very surprised.
With new head coach Mike Pettine’s defensive mindset and fondness for players who play the game violently, Bryant should become one of his favorites from the get-go. This is the one guy whom everyone who started on the defensive line last season should be worried about.
If he has a good work ethic and makes the most of his reps, Bryant could easily find himself as one of the main players up front on defense.
So far in his NFL career, Joe Haden has lived up to the expectations of the eighth overall pick in the draft. Haden entered the club of elite, shutdown cornerbacks in 2013 while making his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams.
This offseason he cashed in on that value to the tune of a five-year, $68 million contract extension according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The deal made Haden the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL just a week after Seattle’s Richard Sherman signed his megadeal.
Some jaded fans might expect Haden to play with less intensity now that he has received his big payday. Not only is that inaccurate but people will also be surprised to see that Haden will take his game to yet another level for the 2014 season.
Haden is one of those guys who will excel at everything he does. His natural ability allows him to dominate pretty much anywhere he wants to play. Remember, Haden has only been playing cornerback since he arrived at the University of Florida.
The biggest training-camp surprise will be the fact that Haden still has not found the ceiling of his talents at cornerback. That should be frightening for offensive coordinators around the league.