The start of training camps across the NFL is only about a week away, and the Cleveland Browns have plenty of concerns.
The team is, of course, awaiting a decision from the league on whether quarterback Deshaun Watson will be suspended and for how long as a result of sexual misconduct allegations.
Such a decision will have a huge effect on the Browns’ season and what head coach Kevin Stefanski will have to do as a result, and the decision could reportedly take a while.
But other than who starts under center, Cleveland has a few other things to be concerned about as camp nears.
Although the roster, when whole, could be very competitive, it is still a work in progress, and there are things that need to be shored up.
The Cornerback Spot
Denzel Ward is one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks, and he has made the Pro Bowl twice in his four pro seasons.
However, he has been somewhat injury-prone, and he suffered a foot injury last month during minicamp that threatened to limit his activity moving forward.
In the past, Ward has had issues with concussions and hamstring ailments, and he will need to stay healthy for the Browns to play well enough defensively to have a shot at the playoffs.
When Ward is healthy, he is a difference-maker.
Last season, when the receiver he was guarding was targeted, he allowed a 60.3 percent completion rate and a 76.6 passer rating.
The Browns’ other starting cornerback is Greg Newsome II, who is coming off a solid rookie season.
If healthy, both should hold down the fort in the tough AFC, but with Ward’s recent foot injury, one has to be sure he is able to perform to the best of his ability.
New acquisition Amari Cooper, a four-time Pro Bowler, will give Cleveland a boost, but he cannot be the only reliable receiver on the roster.
The other wideouts are a question mark, as there are young and somewhat unproven.
Schwartz had just 135 yards and one touchdown in 2021, while Peoples-Jones registered 597 yards and three touchdowns.
If Watson is allowed to play this season, there is hope he can elevate them and help them develop, but as the old saying goes, you cannot get blood out of a turnip.
Schwartz and Peoples-Jones, along with incoming rookie David Bell, will have to prove they have the talent the prevent defenses from keying on Cooper while making big catches and plays often enough.
Holy smokes. Baker Mayfield launches a Hail Mary and Donovan Peoples-Jones comes down with it! pic.twitter.com/EucELAu2lq
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 17, 2021
The last two years, Austin Hooper was an adequate tight end for Cleveland, but he has departed to join the Tennessee Titans.
David Njoku got 🆙 pic.twitter.com/seKkDT5em0
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) November 7, 2021
He has improved his blocking ability, but his offensive numbers haven’t been much to write home about, as he put up 475 yards and four touchdowns last year.
Njoku is a different type of tight end compared to Hooper, and he will have to pick up the slack for him instead of simply splitting tight end responsibilities with him.