The biggest news coming out of Berea this week seems to be the rash of injuries that has plagued the Cleveland Browns thus far in training camp.
To date, RB Montario Hardesty, CB Eric Wright, LB D'Qwell Jackson, LB Marcus Benard, DL Brian Schaefering, and OL Joel Reinders have suffered injuries serious enough to at least miss significant time during training camp and pre-season.
Defensive standout Shaun Rogers and punter Dave Zastudil are also recovering from off-season injuries and have yet to return to practice.
It is never a good thing to see a player injured, but the world of the NFL waits for no one. While fans sit and wait to learn the extent of these players' injuries, the team will be moving forward with the players it has available.
Cleveland has several young players on its roster who are hungry for a chance to prove themselves. With several key players on the sideline for the time being, these young players just might get that chance.
It is easy to focus on the negatives surrounding any player injury, but let's take a look at some of the first- and second-year players who hope to make the most of the opportunities provided by these injuries.
Second-year running back James Davis suffered a serious injury of his own in 2009 which prematurely ended his season only a few weeks in.
Before that, however, Davis was the star of the Browns' pre-season, flashing some serious play-making ability and looking like he could be Cleveland's long-term answer at running back.
Fast forward to 2010, when the Browns drafted Montario Hardesty in the second round of the draft with every expectation of him becoming the running back of the future.
Hardesty shined during OTAs and was expected to be a serious threat to Jerome Harrison for the starting RB job, but suffered a leg injury at the onset of training camp and is expected to miss a few weeks.
Davis was given the reps with the first and second team offense that would have went to Hardesty and didn't hesitate to take full advantage.
By all accounts, he looks to be performing with the same signs of promise he exhibited during 2009 training camp.
Davis has been making plays everywhere in training camp and out played all running backs, including projected starter Harrison, in the recent Brown/White scrimmage.
Cleveland's first pre-season game is only days away, and Davis looks to see plenty of playing time with the first- and second-team offense.
If he is able to produce big plays on the field as he did last year, this time against starting-caliber defenders, it could be Davis, not Hardesty, who threatens Harrison for the starting job.
When starting CB Eric Wright went down with a leg injury, it moved rookie Joe Haden into the starting role.
The extent of Wright's injury is not yet known, but for the time being, Haden will line up with Sheldon Brown to form the starting cornerback duo for Cleveland.
Haden was expected to see playing time as the third corner behind Wright and Brown in 2010.
It has been reported that Haden began training camp looking like the rookie that he is, but has begun to look a lot more comfortable in recent practices.
Now he will be forced to step his game up even more as he will be playing every down and covering one of the top two receivers instead of lining up against the slot.
If Wright is unable to play in the opening game of pre-season against the Green Bay Packers, Haden will get the start against one of the league's most high-powered offenses.
If luck goes Cleveland's way, Wright will be ready for the regular season and Haden will be able to return the nickelback role.
In any event, the starting experience Haden might get in pre-season will be invaluable to the development of the promising first-round pick.
When starting ILB D'Qwell Jackson was put on injured reserve during the 2009 season, it opened the door for several players to see more time at the position. One of those players was then-rookie Kaluka Maiava.
Maiava was initially projected to play mostly on special teams as a rookie, but played extremely well on defense when given the opportunity.
Even though he only managed three starts, he finished the season with a respectable 45 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.
Now Jackson is injured again, possibly for the season, and Maiava may be the recipient of additional playing time. Maiava may even develop into an upgrade over Jackson at the ILB position.
While he is 11 pounds lighter than Jackson, he plays with an agression and physicality that Jackson has never been able to achieve.
Maiava may not rack up the gaudy tackling numbers that Jackson puts up each year, but he has already produced one more forced fumble and just one fewer sack than Jackson has in his career.
Jackson is in the final year of his rookie contract, and if Maiava uses the opportunity to continue improving his play on defense, Jackson may become expendable.
While the injuries of Hardesty, Wright and Jackon have dominated the headlines, the injury to LB Marcus Benard may have just as big of an impact.
Benard managed 3.5 sacks in only six games as a rookie last season.
He even provided enough of a pass rush presence that the front office decided that the team could afford to ship sack leader Kamerion Wimbley to Oakland.
Unfortunately, Benard was carted off the field during a recent practice. While we await word on the seriousness of the injury, it is obvious that he is going to miss some time.
Second-year player David Veikune is a player with a high motor and was expected to be a pass rushing force when he was taken in the second round of the 2009 draft.
However, he has had trouble making the transition from a college defensive end to an NFL linebacker and failed to record a single stat as a rookie.
With Benard out, someone else will need to step up and provide a pass rush for Cleveland.
If Veikune is able to prove that he can indeed get to the quarterback during pre-season, he might get the opportunity to play on passing downs come the regular season.
While Veikune may still have a way to go toward becoming an every-down linebacker, becoming a competent pass rusher may be his golden opportunity in 2010 to shed the dreaded "bust" label.
With defensive stalwart Shaun Rogers still recovering from the ankle injury that landed him on IR last season, and with DL Brian Schaefering now injured, depth along the defensive line has become dangerously thin.
At 6'7" and 300 pounds, Rookie defensive end Clifton Geathers is an absolute monster of a man but is still a bit raw and will need time to develop into a true every down player.
With fewer bodies on the defensive line, Geathers should benefit with more reps during camp and more playing time during pre-season.
Geathers possesses tremendous athletic talent for a man of his stature and could prove to be a viable pass rush option, which would also help alleviate the loss of Marcus Benard.
If he can take full advantage of additional time in pre-season, Geathers may earn himself a solid role in Cleveland's defensive line rotation in 2010.
At first glance, this one may not seem so obvious, but the injury to Eric Wright will likely mean that do-it-all DB Mike Adams will see more playing time at cornerback.
Adams played exceptionally well replacing Brandon McDonald at cornerback late last season and should he see more time at the postion this pre-season, it would open up more available reps at safety.
One of the players who could benefit most from additional reps is rookie fifth-round pick Larry Asante.
Nicknamed "The Assassin," Asante is a powerful, hard hitting safety who is expected to thrive at the strong safety position.
However, he is also quick and has shown a dramatic improvement in pass coverage during the off-season.
Therefore, it would surprise no one to see head coach Eric Mangini test Asante at both safety positions during training camp.
Asante has impressed the coaching staff with his work ethic and with how quickly he appears to be adjusting to the speed and schemes of the NFL.
Fellow rookie T.J. Ward is expected to start alongside returning player Abram Elam at safety, but added developmental time could give Asante a legitimate chance to earn significant playing time during the 2010 season.
Second year CB Coye Francies is a strong, athletic player with upside. While he is still raw and saw little playing time in 2009, Francies has all the physical tools to develop into a talented corner for Cleveland's future. He could benefit from additional playing time as a result of the injury to Eric Wright.
Rookie DT Kwaku Danso is a physical freak, but has very little football experience. Injuries to Shaun Rogers and Brian Schaefering could get him extra reps during training camp. At 6'5" and 336lbs, Danso could earn a spot in the DT rotation with an outstanding pre-season.
Second year RB Chris Jennings played fairly well in limited opportunities in 2009. With a very deep backfield in Cleveland, it may be difficult for him to make the final roster, but with Hardesty injured, Jennings may earn a few extra chances to prove his worth during pre-season.
Undrafted rookie OL Casey Bender has quietly had a solid training camp at the tackle position. The injury to Joel Reinders could land him on the practice squad and Bender could become the Browns' new OL project.
Punter Reggie Hodges doesn't really fit the list because he is entering his fourth NFL season. However, he is worth noting because of the injury to Dave Zastudil. Hodges filled in nicely for Zastudil last season and has looked outstanding in training camp, consistently booming the ball 50-60 yards downfield. If Zastudil isn't ready to start the regular season, Cleveland fans shouldn't worry because, with Hodges, the punting game should remain a team strength.