Going into training camp there were several position competitions. Whether or not it was an actual competition, Brandon Weeden won the quarterback job. Other positions up for grabs included free safety, cornerback, guard and both kicking spots.
Yesterday, Rob Chudzinski announced that Tashaun Gipson would be the starting free safety. Johnson Bademosi will certainly see time at safety and as an additional defensive back in certain schemes and situations.
The second cornerback competition is technically not settled, however Chris Owens has been bothered by leg and feet issues all camp long. He sat out practice again yesterday. I believe the Browns like him at that corner spot, allowing Buster Skrine to cover slot receivers in the nickel package. If Owens is unable to go though, they wouldn’t hesitate to put Skrine in that spot. Rookie Leon McFadden simply hasn’t been able to stay on the field enough. He still needs work at the position.
The guard spot isn’t settled, but that is because two of the three players in the competition for the guard spots are now injured. Rookie Garrett Gilkey is currently battling Oniel Cousins for the right guard spot, unless of course the Browns make another move to pick up a guard, which is entirely possible after teams start cutting players.
Speaking of roster cuts…
The first cut-down day in the NFL is August 27th. Teams have to be down to 75 players on the roster by 4:00 p.m. That’s next Tuesday. The Browns play their third exhibition game against the Colts on Saturday night, and then will be off on Sunday. The Browns could technically practice on Monday with all of the players currently on the roster and then make cuts Tuesday morning if they choose to.
Which makes Saturday’s game pretty important to some players. Quickly looking at the roster, there are probably 10-12 players that the Browns already know won’t be on the final roster or be offered a practice squad spot. That leaves 3-5 players “on the bubble” for these first cuts.
The Browns will likely place Dion Lewis on the IR, ending his season and taking him off the active roster. That could leave one spot remaining.
If the Browns know who they like punting and place kicking, they could cut the competition in those two spots. Doesn’t seem likely with the place kickers. Brandon Bogotay hasn’t been kicking since his leg tightened up in the Lions game. I believe he was the slight leader for the job. Don’t expect a cut between him and Shayne Graham next week.
The punting position does not appear to be settled, plus it is good to have multiple punters at practice. I wouldn’t expect a cut here either just yet.
So here are some players that I believe are on the bubble. Guys who may need a decent showing on Saturday. A good play on special teams or a reception late in the game could be the difference between another week of practice with the team and a plane ride home.
The first two are defensive backs Akeem Auguste and Abdul Kanneh. Injuries to Owens, McFadden, Jamoris Slaughter and Trevin Wade have opened the door for one or both of these players to make it at least to the last preseason game. Going into camp I would have said neither had much of a shot at making the final roster, but both have shown a little something either in practice or the preseason games.
Auguste is listed behind Skrine and Owens on the depth chart, while Kanneh is listed fourth on the other side behind Haden, McFadden and Wade. The depth chart only lists guys in the base defense however. Both can be used in multiple packages. Kanneh has made some plays in practice that makes me think he has a shot at making the team, especially if a couple of the guys in the secondary are still banged up.
Another spot to watch is in the wide receiving corps. Naaman Roosevelt would have probably been on the bubble anyway, but his injury did him no favors this week. Dominique Croom, Mike Edwards and Roosevelt are three players I don’t expect to see on the final roster, nor offered a practice squad spot. Any combination of the three could be let go next week. Cordell Roberson is legitimately fighting for a spot on the team along with Josh Cooper and probably even Jordan Norwood. I expect to see all three of them in the final preseason game.
(Photo: Jon Cole Photography/WFNY)