Cleveland Browns: Winners and losers from camp

Training camp is well underway for the Cleveland Browns.  Here are three players that have impressed and three that have underwhelmed.  

Quarterback battle 

Brian Hoyer came into training camp with a huge asterisk next to his name after being selected as the unofficial starting quarterback.  Most pundits thought that Hoyer had an advantage over rookie Johnny Manziel solely because of his experience in both the NFL and with the Browns.  Head coach Mike Pettine simply couldn’t name an inexperienced Manziel the starter after an offseason with countless headlines of Manziel partying across the country.

Everyone expected Hoyer to be the unofficial starter by default.  We get it.  The Browns were just gonna act tough and tell their spoiled child he needed to behave before he got the keys to the Ferrari (or in Cleveland’s case, the Prius) and got to be the number one guy, right?  Wrong.  Pettine, an old fashioned and defensive-minded coach, had every intention to have an open and fair quarterback competition from day one.  Hoyer, less than a year away from an ACL injury, was eager to prove his doubters wrong and have a great camp.

Hoyer has been consistently better than Manziel since the beginning of camp.  He has shown great poise in the pocket and also exhibited great leadership.  He started with the 1’s for a full week before Manziel got a shot with them.  His knowledge of the playbook is apparent and he has lacked the mental mistakes that have plagued Manziel’s camp.  Pettine named Hoyer the starter for the first preseason game, and he is listed as such on the depth chart.  (Via MLive)

Manziel hasn’t had an awful camp, but he is not living up the extraordinary hype that accompanied his selection as the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft.  He technically is one of the “losers” of camp by default simply because he isn’t going to start.  He has the highest-selling jersey in the league though, and he may very well get some time this season.  Keep an eye out for Manziel, just not right now.  This is Hoyer’s team until Manziel proves otherwise.

Rookie running backs

Terrance West had a phenomenal start to camp, and he’s been solid overall.  He slowed down after dazzling in the first two days, but that’s to be expected from a rookie.  I definitely think he is one of the winners from camp thus far, but I won’t go into much detail here.  He’s proven that he can be a reliable backup to Ben Tate and will play this season.  Here’s an earlier piece I wrote that gives more insight into the former Towson player’s camp.

Isaiah Crowell is a rookie who has an insane amount of potential.  He was touted as one of the best high school running backs in the country and had a great freshman season at Georgia before he hit a slippery slope.  Legal trouble led to a second chance at Alabama State where Crowell was nearly forgotten.  The Browns picked him up hoping that he would be able to tap into his potential, but he finds himself at the very bottom of the depth chart right now.  Some are still high on Crowell, but West has stolen the show so far, and Crowell will have to fight for a roster spot.

Wide Receiver 

Josh Gordon‘s all but certain suspension looms over the wide receiver corps, but one bright spot has been veteran Miles Austin.  The former Dallas Cowboy has fit in seamlessly with his new Cleveland teammates and is listed as a starter on the first preseason depth chart.  He’s been there and done that, and his experience will do wonders for the younger receivers.  Travis Benjamin was expected to make a big contribution this season, but he’s listed behind Andrew Hawkins, Nate Burleson and Austin.  Benjamin may still make a positive impact this season, but he has had a forgettable training camp and has had many embarrassing drops.  He had one this week that made fans loudly make fun of him.

First impressions have been made already in training camp, but don’t forget that they are only that.  It’s a long preseason and things constantly change in the NFL.  Stay tuned for more as the Browns get ready for their preseason opener against the Detroit Lions on Saturday.  

 

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