When the Cleveland Browns take the field in Green Bay this Saturday night I expect to see a much different team than I've witnessed the last four years. Win or lose I'm pretty sure the Browns will play hard to the final whistle. With so many jobs up for grabs at every position the effort should be intense. It's so refreshing to see competition, contact and hard work once again an important part of the Browns training camp. After all isn't that what training camp is all about.
Unlike recent years where we had the yearly QB competition, veterans and rookies alike are being put to the test for their jobs. Sure we still have a battle for the QB spot but this year it's different. With only a few jobs secure, Joe Thomas, Braylon Edwards, Shaun Rogers, D'Qwelle Jackson, Josh Cribbs, Phil Dawson, Dave Zastudil, Ryan Pontbriand and Eric Barton, every other Browns player finds himself playing for either a starting spot or a place on the final roster. This has to make Cleveland a better team than last year. Nobody is handed anything under Mangini. Players are playing hungry. Mangini, like him or not, has bought a huge change to the Browns.
Some position battles I'm looking forward to watching are at the secondary positions. Elam, Pool and Adams at safety. Cornerbacks Wright, McDonald, Francies, and Hood are all playing well. OLB's Wimbley, Hall, Bowens and Brown are all very close plus I can't wait to see Veikune in action. The defensive line seems deeper than in years past with only Rogers a lock to start. On offense i'm sure everyone will be paying close attention to the QB battle with DA and Quinn but keep an eye on Ratliff. The offensive line is very competitive with many players playing multiple positions. It will be interesting to see how Mack does when he doesn't have to line up against Rogers. The running backs are playing for carries this year as Mangini seems to favor using more than just one running back. I really want to see how good Davis is. Wide receiver is another battle that will be fun to watch. Robiskie, Massaquoi, Cribbs, Furry, Leggett, Patton, Hubbard and Norwood all have a legitimate shot at the #2 receiver position opposite Edwards. The tight ends will be interesting as well. Can Rucker block well enough to start? Has Heiden recovered enough from his knee surgery to win a starting spot? Royal can block but how are his hands? So many things to watch for, I can hardly wait.