Summer vacation keeps on chugging along for the Browns, but we're spending the weeks ahead of training camp preparing for endless sun rays and seas of brown and orange-clad fans as far as the eye can see through our much-needed sunglasses. Can you feel us wishing good weather into existence in Berea? Us neither (don't jinx it).
While we wait for the players to return and the ball boys to roll out the pigskins, we're previewing training camp by looking at each position. Today's group: tight ends.
Check out photos of the Browns tight ends
THE TIGHT ENDS
What we know: A fun little wrinkle in the thrilling second half of the 2018 season was Freddie Kitchens' implementation of three-tight end sets, something that seems a bit antiquated in today's spread-them-out style of football. He told reporters beforehand they'd do it, which they took as a joke, then did it and won with it. This time around, Cleveland seems to be even better equipped to do so, thanks to the addition of the extremely athletic Harris. Brown could make a similar impact if he lands on the team. In fact, all six of these tight ends have proven they can provide value in one area or another. It just depends on what Kitchens and his staff value most. We know the coaches will keep a close eye on the play of David Njoku. Browns general manager John Dorsey was not shy about his demand that Njoku improve as a blocker in his third NFL season. On a team equipped with multiple stellar running backs and a young, franchise quarterback, playing tight end won't just be about catching passes. We know Harris and Charles can block effectively. This camp will teach us who else has been working on the less attractive part of their craft.
What we don't know: It seems this tight end room has suddenly become a little too populated for their own comfort, meaning someone might get squeezed out. Plus, how many tight ends will this team carry come September? All six of these players have at least decent cases for making the team, but typically an NFL team will only carry three or four tight ends at most. That means at least two of these qualified targets will be looking elsewhere for a 53-man roster spot by the time camp is over.
X-Factor: Harris. He spent the first five years of his career playing behind Travis Kelce in Kansas City, but followed Dorsey -- the man who discovered him -- to Cleveland for what Harris believes is a better opportunity. He's ecstatic to be in Cleveland, but needs to prove it was the right decision with his play. He'll have plenty of competition, and even though he was a free-agent addition, nothing will be handed to him. Conversely, if he can live up to the expectations of those who have watched him closely in the last half decade, he'll make Cleveland's offense exponentially more dangerous. Njoku is already a vertical threat and excellent leaper, but adding Harris into the mix to go along with an offense loaded with talent at receiver and running back … that's the stuff of nightmares for the opposition.
The biggest number: 75, for two reasons. First, that was the combined total receptions recorded by Browns tight ends in 2018, which accounted for just 21.25% of all Browns receptions. Secondly, and more importantly, Njoku's share of the tight end receptions was incredibly close to 75 percent (74.67%), as he caught 56 of those 75. Speaking strictly about tight end receptions, that isn't going to work in 2019. The Browns should aim for a better distribution at the position, bringing it lower than 70%, and might also expect to see the total receptions recorded by tight ends exceed 75. We're looking for changes in both directions. The goal: Get away from 75.
Says it all: A double dose here. First: "You want to talk about an all-around tight end? A guy that's a freak of nature, athleticism, and then on top of that can get in the trenches and block any single player that you name in the National Football League. He's a hidden gem and I think Cleveland got an unbelievable football player. It hurt me to see him go but I'm happy for him, happy for his new opportunity and can't wait to see him play." -Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce on Demetrius Harris
"I really like it. I like all of (the tight ends). There are four of them right now together, and they are very talented individuals. They all will serve different roles in this thing, but I think as you watch them work together, they are starting to get familiar with each other. What I want to do is wait until training camp comes and then really assess what that thing is all about because why make decisions now in shorts? Let’s make decisions when pads get on." - Dorsey
How many were kept on the initial 53-man roster last year?: 4