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Training Camp

5 position battles we'll be watching in Browns training camp

Believe it or not, the Browns are less than two weeks out from the start of training camp. 

While Cleveland went out and solidified needs at quarterback (Tyrod Taylor), free safety (Damarious Randall) and cornerback (Denzel Ward, T.J. Carrie) in the offseason, there'll be no shortage of position battles on a new-look roster. 

Here's five we'll be watching:

Wide receiver

Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon are a big reason why one of the team's weakest position groups from a year ago is now a strength. Landry (a three-time Pro Bowler who led the league in receptions last season) and Gordon (a 2013 Pro Bowler) are expected to anchor the Browns' top two receiver spots. After that? It'll be a battle between a mix of familiar — Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis — and new faces like Antonio Callaway, Jeff Janis and Damion Ratley. 

Interior defensive line

When the Browns traded Danny Shelton to the Patriots this past spring, they did so with the belief that a young crop of defensive tackles are ready to step up. That group includes Larry Ogunjobi (a third-round pick in 2017 who came on strong late last season), Trevon Coley (15 starts last season), veteran Jamie Meder and Caleb Brantley. Considering how defensive coordinator Gregg Williams likes to rotate his defensive linemen, training camp should give us a better picture of what that pecking order will look like. 

"All of those guys are playing really well. They are all doing outstanding. The four returners that are in there are doing really well with Caleb and Larry being the young guys," he said.

"They will take the next step. Jamie Meder probably one of the best run players in the National Football League. You saw a little statistic last year. They are doing very well. Caleb and Coley are both doing very well in a three-technique position. Some of the new, young guys coming in here are giving them a fight."

Left tackle

There will be no replacing future Hall-of-Famer Joe Thomas, but the Browns will do their best to fill a position that some of us took for granted. Toward the end of offseason workouts, offensive line coach Bob Wylie said third-year tackle Shon Coleman was "leading the charge" in the competition to be Thomas' heir. Cleveland also drafted versatile rookie Austin Corbett in the second round and signed undrafted free agent Desmond Harrison in the spring. 

"We are talking about replacing one of the best players to ever play that position," head coach Hue Jackson said. "I would be not a very good coach if I did not try everybody over there first before we made that decision. We do not have Joe Thomas here anymore. We have moved on form that. We have to make sure that we have somebody that is comfortable that can play that spot that gives us a chance to win games."

Running back

There's no doubting the talent in a room filled with Duke Johnson, Carlos Hyde and rookie Nick Chubb. Still unclear, however, is how the Browns will divide touches among three gifted running backs who each bring something different to the table. 

Johnson, who inked a contract extension last month, was Cleveland's lone offensive bright spot a year ago; Hyde, who signed with the team in free agency, is coming off back-to-back seasons of at least 1,000 all-purpose yards; Chubb, the former Georgia standout and second-round pick, was considered one of college football's best backs, especially in between the tackles.

"Ultimately, all three of those guys can run our running game," running backs coach Freddie Kitchens said. "Duke can do a few more things in the passing game. Ultimately, we feel like that is a position of strength. Coach (Bill) Parcells taught me a long time ago, do not turn a position of strength into a weakness. You would like to keep it a strength, and we are fortunate that is where we are."

Strong safety

Williams described a competition between Jabrill Peppers and Derrick Kindred at strong safety as "lights out" at the end of offseason workouts. Both players, he said, bring different talents to a defense that stands to make a jump in 2018.

"Derrick Kindred is one of the best strong safeties I've had the chance to coach in my career in the run game and zone pass game. Jabrill has those same instincts, and Jabrill is really, really good around the ball and having a chance to make plays on the ball, which is important," Williams said.

"What's been fun is to watch how both of them have been pushing each other and how far they have taken steps pushing each other ... It's a good thing to have depth-wise because it's a tough game. Hopefully, everything will be going good. It's been fun to see them compete and play."

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