For the first time since 2019, the Browns will welcome all 90 players on their roster back to Cleveland for mandatory minicamp.
The practice fields in Berea will have full attendance starting with the first minicamp practice Tuesday. Practices will also be held Wednesday and Thursday and should provide plenty of storylines to watch as we get our final look at the Browns until training camp. Players won't be in pads, but after last season's entirely virtual offseason and five long months with minimal football, it'll feel great to see players back on the field.
Let's dive into five storylines to watch as the Browns gather as one to finish up offseason activities.
1. Return of Odell Beckham Jr., Greedy Williams, Grant Delpit
Three players who suffered season-ending injuries last season will be with the team at practice to open minicamp.
WR Odell Beckham Jr. will receive ample attention every time he steps on the field. We'll see how much he participates as he comes back from a knee injury suffered in Week 7 last season that sidelined him for the rest of the year, but his presence in the receivers group will be a welcome sight for an offense eager for full-strength reps after dealing with injuries throughout 2020.
"Man, he looked amazing," wide receiver Jarvis Landry told reporters last weekend at his celebrity softball game. "I can't wait for you guys to see him. I can't wait for him to get back out there. He's in fantastic shape and he's ready to go. He's already doing some things that will blow your mind away."
On the defensive side, CB Greedy Williams and S Grant Delpit will have their first opportunity to share the field with the Browns' top receivers. Williams is recovering from a shoulder injury, while Delpit is recovering from an Achilles injury — both injuries happened on the same day of training camp in 2020.
Both players received a heavy dose of reps at the beginning of the month during voluntary OTAs, and they'll have more chances to show how much progress they've made this week.
2. New-look defense
We could make a whole separate story covering storylines for the defense as all the new pieces come together for the first time in 2021, but we'll do our best to wrap it all up here.
First, the secondary. S John Johnson III is the new vocal leader of the backfield, while Delpit and Ronnie Harrison Jr., among other safeties will compete for starting spots. At cornerback, top veteran Denzel Ward will work with Williams and 2021 first-round pick Greg Newsome II for starting spots on the outside, and top free-agent acquisition Troy Hill will likely see lots of looks in the slot.
At linebacker, we could see how 2021 second-round pick Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah stacks up against some of the other potential Browns starters. Free agent acquisition Anthony Walker will be the leader of the room, which also includes Jacob Phillips, Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson — all young players who could position themselves for big roles this season if they impress in minicamp and training camp.
On the D-Line, Myles Garrett always provides must-watch football whenever he's on the field. This year, he'll be joined with Takkarist McKinley and three-time Pro Bowler Jadeveon Clowney, and minicamp will give us our first look at how defensive coordinator Joe Woods uses each players' versatility to maximize the strengths of the whole defensive line.
Speaking of that…
3. Defensive versatility on full display
One of the underlying themes of the Browns' free agent class and 2021 draft haul was how nearly every defensive addition provided their own layer of versatility at their position.
Well, now we'll start to see what kind of shifting Woods has in store. Who will be on the field when the Browns deploy five defensive backs? Who could be the front-runner to receive first team snaps at linebacker? Will Garrett, Clowney and McKinley all be featured on the defensive line?
Those are questions we could receive partial answers to this week, with a heavy emphasis on "partial" — don't expect to have a full grasp on how Woods rolls out his defense until training camp.
We're just excited to see all the new pieces on the field together at once.
4. Baker Mayfield and continuity
That's perhaps the biggest storyline to watch for the entire offense in 2021. With every offensive starter and nearly every coach returning from 2020, expectations are high for quarterback Baker Mayfield to take an even bigger leap after throwing 26 touchdowns and a career-low eight interceptions last season.
Coach Kevin Stefanski proved his playbook could bring the best out of Mayfield, and they both believe they can bring an even more efficient look to the offense after going back to the playbook lab and making slight tweaks for 2021.
"I hope it is significantly better," Stefanski said in April, referring to Mayfield's understanding of the playbook. "I hope (it improves) as he starts to listen to the installs with (offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt) and you are hearing it for not the second time – he has heard these plays over and over again."
5. Early peak at DT rotation
Let's focus on perhaps the most competitive position battle we'll have come training camp: defensive tackle.
The position is set to have all new starters, and it's anyone's guess who they could be. Free-agent acquisition Malik Jackson is certainly qualified with nine seasons of NFL experience and has taken an early grasp on his role as the experienced veteran of the group. Andrew Billings, a five-year vet who opted out of the 2020 season, will be in the competition along with other veterans in Damion Square (nine years in the NFL) and Sheldon Day (six years).
Then, there's the youth. Jordan Elliott and Tommy Togiai are third- and fourth-round draft picks from the past two drafts, and Marvin Wilson was a coveted undrafted free agent signing from last May. Malik McDowell, a second-round pick with the Seattle Seahawks from 2017, will have a shot, too.
How might that rotation play out? Minicamp could offer a hint.