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Cleveland Could Be The Dark Horse Once Again

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Cleveland Could Be The Dark Horse Once Again
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Sure, Cleveland was horrible last season.  Then again, six losses were by 10 points or less.  Two of those were to division foes, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

Not to mention the injuries that seem to plague the Browns every year.  Stallworth, Winslow, Jurevicius, Quinn and Anderson were all out for significant amounts of time, not exactly a recipe for success.

This season the Browns are starting over again.  A new coaching staff led by Head Coach Eric Mangini, will bring much needed discipline to the franchise.  This was apparent as the Browns got rid of Kellen Winslow and Donte Stallworth's off-season drama leading to a suspension.  One must wonder if the Stallworth situation would have been handled differently under Romeo Crennel.  Lest we forget those 'glory days'...good grief.

Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson - The Browns will most likely start Brady Quinn at Quarterback this season.  Face it, he is a fan favorite and has shown a great work ethic over the past few months.  Which is something Coach Mangini has been known to appreciate. 

Both players have 2 years left on their contracts and you can bet that whoever doesn't get the starting job will be traded during the next off-season.  Anderson could be on his way out of Cleveland before the the 2009 regular season if injuries strike another team's QB corps.  Although, a couple mid/late round picks may be the best bet for the Browns to make a deal in the off-season before the 2010 Draft.

Now, before the debate of Anderson vs. Quinn gets started lets look at what else we have to look forward to this season. 

Jamal Lewis, Jerome Harrison and James Davis - Triple J will be similar to the Giants' Earth, Wind and Fire.  Although Lewis is entering the twilight of his career, he is a solid back with a strong connection with the rookie James Davis (both from the same Atlanta High School).  Harrison will most likely be battling with Davis for 2nd string HB duties this season.

Braylon Edwards, Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs - Edwards will be playing his heart out in an effort to command more money during his contract year.  Robiskie and Massaquoi are rookies, but they are solid rookies.  Robiskie's father is a WR Coach for the Falcons and Massaquoi caught passes from #1 Overall Pick Matthew Stafford in college.  Not too shabby.  Cribbs is Cribbs - one of the most electrifying Browns KR/PRs since Eric Metcalf  not to mention, like Edwards - he wants more money as well.

Steve Heiden - The veteran Tight End will be sharing duties with Robert Royal and Martin Rucker.  It will be interesting to see how well these guys play into the Cleveland passing attack this year.

Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach, Alex Mack, Hank Fraley, Rex Hadnot and John St. Clair - A pretty solid O-Line with Thomas and Steinbach leading the left side.  Mack should win the battle over Fraley by the end of the pre-season if it plays out like many 'experts' seem to believe.

Corey Williams, Shaun Rogers and Robaire Smith - One of the most powerful 3-4 D-Lines in football will be leading the charge on defense.

D'Qwell Jackson, Kamerion Wimbley, David Bowens and Eric Barton - With Jackson and Wimbley having plenty of potential, there will be a lot riding on how well Barton and Bowens can hold up their end of the deal.  Granted, Wimbley has had a couple rough seasons, there is still a chance he can prove to be a great OLB.

Eric Wright, Brodney Pool, Mike Adams and Brandon McDonald - One of the best moments from the 2008 season was Eric Wright returning an Eli Manning interception for a game clinching touchdown.  There were moments of brilliance, true.  Unfortunately, the other memory that stands out from the 2008 season is Brandon McDonald getting burnt by the Broncos' Eddie Royal as the Browns let the game slip away on defense.  This will be the area for the Browns to improve on if they hope to win any games this season.

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