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Jordan Cameron, Billy Winn highlight Cleveland Browns’ OTA superlatives

Posted Jun 5, 2014

Senior Editor Vic Carucci recognizes the standouts through three weeks of Browns OTA practices.

Billy Winn, Terrance West, Andrew Hawkins

Here are my superlatives from the first three weeks of Cleveland Browns’ OTA practices:

Offensive MVPs

Jordan Cameron: He has been the most consistently dominant performer in each practice. The fourth-year tight end seems to have taken his game to a higher level than last season, when he made his first Pro Bowl. Cameron is showing a better understanding of coverages, which is helping him to find openings deeper downfield, and he looks to be an even more dangerous red-zone target.

Andrew Hawkins: He not only catches practically everything thrown his way, but he does an exceptional job from his slot-receiver position of finding openings underneath zone coverage that, because his tremendous speed and quickness, often are impossible for the defense to close. He has amazing acceleration that allows him to turn short and intermediate routes into big plays.

Terrance West: In most workouts, the rookie running back hasn’t looked like a rookie. He immediately established himself as a force during rookie camp, and has continued to do so while surrounded by veterans the past few weeks. He shows terrific speed and explosiveness, and is a natural fit for the Browns’ new zone-blocking scheme because of his patience that allows blockers to stretch the defense to create seams and his ability to plant his foot and quickly burst through the first opening he sees.

Offensive surprises

Joel Bitonio: For a rookie, he has a veteran-like presence at guard. Anthony Armstrong: He shows impressive speed for a 31-year-old receiver and catches the ball well. MarQueis Gray: He’s establishing himself as the second-best pass-catching tight end on the team and can play fullback. Willie Snead: The undrafted free-agent receiver has consistently performed well. Edwin Baker: He might be a long-shot to keep a roster spot at a position that has been greatly upgraded with the additions of West and Ben Tate, but the guy does have a great deal of speed.

Offensive sleeper

Isaiah Crowell: He made some eye-catching runs and moves during rookie minicamp before being sidelined with an injury. Depending on how/when he recovers, the rookie free agent will be someone to watch in training camp.

Defensive MVPs

Billy Winn: He has been extremely active along the defensive line, making the most of his impressive combination of size, strength, and athleticism. He looks to be bigger and stronger than ever. He also seems to fit perfectly into a defensive scheme that emphasizes aggressive play up front.

Donte Whitner: There is no contact in these no-pads sessions, but it’s easy to see Whitner’s presence being felt as the hard-hitting safety he has been throughout his NFL career. He consistently is around the ball and has been in position on numerous occasions to deliver big blows. Despite recently joining the team as a free agent, he already has established himself as one of the primary defensive leaders.

Buster Skrine: His fierce competitiveness has been on display since the very first OTA practice. The veteran cornerback is determined to show that he is worthy of remaining a starter despite the presence of first-round pick Justin Gilbert. And has no intention of giving up playing time to Gilbert or fourth-rounder Pierre Desir or anyone else.

Defensive surprises

Isaiah Trufant: He might be the smallest player on the team, but has impressed coaches by performing like a much larger athlete in coverage. Darius Eubanks: His pass coverage from his inside-linebacker position has been impressive; the guy always seems to be around the football. Jordan Poyer: He’s making a strong impression with his coverage and versatility in the defensive backfield. Leon McFadden: The second-year cornerback is making noticeable strides from his mostly disappointing rookie season. Josh Aubrey: He has made himself noticed with good, solid play in the defensive backfield.

Defensive sleeper

Calvin Barnett: The undrafted rookie defensive lineman has had multiple practices that make you say, “What’s that guy’s number?” For the record, it’s 91.

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