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2012 Position Review: Tight End

Posted Jan 28, 2013

As ClevelandBrowns.com looks back at the 2012 season, we break down the year position-by-position, and today’s spotlight is on the tight ends.

Overview:

Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden never played with a tight end during his college career at Oklahoma State University, but the first-year professional quickly learned how to use the tight ends as a weapon within the Browns’ offense.

Combined between veterans Benjamin Watson and Alex Smith, second-year Brown Jordan Cameron and rookie Brad Smelley, the tight ends caught 79 of the team’s 328 completions. Despite injuries and Smith converting to a blocking fullback for most of the season, the tight ends gained 777 yards and scored four touchdowns during the 2012 season, one year after the tight ends combined for 898 yards and seven touchdowns on 91 receptions.

Of the Browns’ 50 completions of 20 or more yards, nine went to tight ends. Watson led the tight ends with five catches of at least 20 yards, while Cameron was responsible for the other four, including the longest of the season, a 28-yard reception in the third quarter of the team’s regular-season home finale against the Washington Redskins.

The breakout game of the year for the tight ends came in a 23-20 overtime loss at Dallas on Nov. 18.

With 4:01 remaining in the first quarter of play, the Browns took a 7-0 lead over the Cowboys when Watson caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Weeden. Late in the fourth quarter, the Browns trailed the Cowboys, 17-13. On first-and-10 from the Dallas 17-yard line, Weeden took a snap, dropped back and lofted a pass toward Watson in the end zone. Watson hauled in the touchdown, which forced the Cowboys to convert a last-second field goal to force overtime.

Outstanding Performer:

For the third consecutive year, Watson, a nine-year veteran, led the Browns’ tight ends in receptions. He caught 49 passes for 501 yards and three touchdowns, and averaged 10.2 yards per reception in 2012.

Since the start of his Browns career in 2010, Watson has been on the receiving end of 154 passes. He has turned those receptions into 1,674 yards and eight touchdowns, as well as a 10.87 yards-per-reception average.

For the first time in his career, Watson caught at least 30 passes in three consecutive seasons.

Key Number:

Fourteen, the number that Cameron’s receptions increased by in 2012.

As a rookie in 2011, Cameron caught six passes for 33 yards, including a long reception of 15 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 1, 2012. Despite missing the team’s final two games in 2012, Cameron caught 20 passes for 226 yards and one touchdown. He gained an average of 11.3 yards per reception during his second season in the NFL.

What to Watch For:

The development of Cameron.

With a full offseason of workouts and a healthy training camp in 2012, Cameron showed he can make plays down the field in the passing game. While still working on his ability to block at the line of scrimmage despite a size disadvantage against defensive ends, Cameron earned more playing time as a second-year pro.

As a rookie in 2011, Cameron made two starts and played eight games. He played in 14 games and made six starts this past season.

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