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5 hot topics at 2016 Browns training camp

Six months and 15 days since Hue Jackson was named the 16th coach of the Cleveland Browns, he'll be on the field today leading his first training camp practice in Berea.

Excited? We sure are.

Jackson, Paul DePodesta, Sashi Brown and a handful of players set the table Thursday for all sorts of storylines that will follow this team throughout the next month. Here are the five we think are going to shine a little brighter than the rest as we embark on our 2016 training camp coverage.

QB competition hits home stretch

Jackson made news Thursday when he said he'll have a decision at starting quarterback before the Browns' preseason opener August 12 at Green Bay. From today until then, Cleveland will hold 11 practices. It goes without saying that every single snap will matter for Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown and the rest of the team's quarterbacks in an environment that promises to be physical and uptempo.

"It's going to show itself really quickly, and it will definitely be before we play our first preseason game," Jackson said. "I know everybody is looking for me to say, 'Here's the guy,' but I still want to get out here with our players because all of them have to earn a starting spot as we move forward."

This proclamation of a preseason opener deadline will give Browns fan an earlier resolution than previous years and allow whoever wins the job to get settled and comfortable with the rest of the players who emerge as starters.

Who emerges from crowded, young WR room?

This storyline was clear long before Josh Gordon was reinstated.

Cleveland has 12 wide receivers, most of whom are young and loaded with potential. First-round pick Corey Coleman has exuded confidence about his goal of becoming the team's No. 1 receiver, Terrelle Pryor has come a long, long way from where he was at this point last year, veteran Andrew Hawkins is healthy and poised to prosper in the slot and a number of rookies -- three of whom were Day 3 draft picks -- are looking to fill the room with talent and depth that has been lacking in recent years.

This group will be led by veteran assistant Al Saunders, whom Jackson called one of the best in the NFL, his son, Bob, and former Bengals receiver Chad Johnson, who arrived in Berea earlier this week.

The Browns took to the practice fields for their mandatory conditioning run on Thursday evening.

How do you replace Desmond Bryant?

Jackson's "next man up" philosophy is getting put to the test earlier than he would have preferred, and it comes with one of the best players from last year's defense.

Veteran defensive lineman Desmond Bryant is out for the season with a pectoral injury he suffered during an offseason workout. The Browns' biggest pass rushing threat on the defensive line, Bryant might be one of the toughest players to replace on either side of the ball because of his size, strength and innate ability to pressure the quarterback. The Browns signed veteran Nick Hayden last week but are going to need others, such as Xavier Cooper and rookie Carl Nassib, to step up and assume a role they may not have expected when they left Berea in June.

The Browns likely aren't done surveying the waiver wire and free agent market, which will be fluid throughout the month of August.

"We have some guys here on the roster that we're excited to see and see what they can do for our football team," Jackson said. "It's very unfortunate that it happened with Des, because I think he was on his way to having a great season."

Joe Haden's recovery

The Browns' Pro Bowl cornerback took a big step toward recovery Thursday when he participated in and passed his conditioning test. Haden remains on the team's PUP list but he's free to be removed from it at any time.

The Browns missed Haden in a big way through most of last season, as his departure created a trickle-down effect that impacted everyone else in the secondary. If Haden is out for the first few days or weeks of training camp, players such as Justin Gilbert, Pierre Desir, Charles Gaines and veteran Jamar Taylor have big opportunities in front of them to show they can hold their own on the opposite side of the field from Tramon Williams.

"He's chomping at the bit," Jackson said. "We have to kind of put our arms around him and slow him down a little bit because he's ready to get back out there, and he's close, very close. I'm excited about getting him back out there with our football team and playing, but he's done an outstanding job of getting himself healthy.

"We have a little ways to go, but I think he's close. I'm excited to watch him once he gets an opportunity to get back on the field."

Three-man battle at right tackle?

During the spring, Alvin Bailey, a free agent signing from Seattle, and fifth-round pick Spencer Drango shared the repetitions at right tackle. Third-round pick Shon Coleman, who was sidelined during OTAs as he recovered from a knee injury, promises to be added to the mix and will provide even more competition in what should be an under-the-radar battle to line up next to John Greco.

The rest of the Browns offensive line appears settled, with Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio anchoring the left side of the line and Cameron Erving at center. Plenty can change, though, over the next few weeks.

"I'm always eager to see the big guys up front," Brown said. "We've got some new faces along the offensive line including a couple of draft picks there so I'm eager to see what happens there. I know it's going to be a big component of our offense, which is running the ball. I'll be watching that closely."

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