We’re counting down the hours until the Browns and Bills kick off at FirstEnergy Stadium by answering five of your questions.
Are there any quality veteran left tackles out there who could offer more than Joel Bitonio playing out of position, and would the Browns be willing to part with a talented player to acquire one at this point? -- Bruce H., Delaware
General manager John Dorsey certainly has not shown any reluctancy when it comes to wheeling and dealing, so you can’t rule anything out. That’s how we’ll start this discussion. With that said, it’s hard to see a player like the one you describe being available via trade. Left tackles are a lot quarterbacks in the sense there’s probably 10 in the league who play the position at an elite level, 15 who play it good enough and a handful of others who are starting by default. It’s why elite left tackles are compensated the way they are. At this point in the preseason, I’m not seeing a team with a bounty of riches at the position, meaning the price tag would be steep and/or non-existent.
In-house, the Browns continue to give repetitions to Greg Robinson and undrafted rookie Desmond Harrison behind Bitonio. Harrison only started practicing earlier this week because of an offseason toe injury. The Browns have loved what they’ve seen from Bitonio at his new position but remain focused on identifying the best five along the offensive line, so the option remains open to move Bitonio back to his old position if something better arises. It can’t be said enough, though: Bitonio has handled this transition as well as you could ever ask. Rookie Austin Corbett will continue to receive extensive work this preseason as he adjusts to left guard, a new position for him after playing left tackle in college.
Do you think the Browns can sign Dez Bryant? If so where would that leave Josh Gordon? -- Adam C., Elyria
It’s certainly a possibility, especially after Bryant spent the day in Berea on Thursday. He expressed his excitement during an impromptu visit to the Cleveland Browns Daily studios but stressed there were still some things to figure out. I don’t believe the Bryant courtship and Gordon’s situation are related. The Browns have made it clear they’ll welcome back Gordon whenever he’s ready from a personal standpoint. If both are on the field for Cleveland when the regular season begins, it simply gives Tyrod Taylor two more weapons than he currently has at his disposal.
Might Jabrill Peppers finally get on the field for some offense this year? -- Mark A., Ontario
After three weeks of practice, we haven’t seen any evidence of that. And then there’s this quote from associate head coach/running backs coach Freddie Kitchens.
“I do have a great desire to blast Jabrill whenever he rushes the passer,” Kitchens said when asked about Peppers getting any shots at running back.
So if there are any plans to utilize Peppers on offense, they’re being kept under the Browns’ collective hats.
Aside from providing financial guidance, is Carl Nassib still in the mix to make the team? He seems a little less prominent than previous seasons. -- Mark L., Geneseo, New York
Nassib is definitely in the mix, and his versatility could be what ensures it. Nassib can not only line up as a traditional defensive end, but also as an interior lineman in certain formations. Because of injuries to Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah throughout last season, Nassib picked up a ton of experience and entered his third training camp bigger, stronger and better prepared. When Ogbah did not participate in team drills at Tuesday’s practice, Nassib worked with the first-team defense.
Andrew, assuming the Browns keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster and one on the practice squad, do you see the Browns replacing Drew Stanton or Brogan Roback for the regular season? Your thoughts? -- Thomas V., Chattanooga, Tennessee
That’d be mildly surprising, especially in regards to Stanton. The 11-year signal-caller has been lauded by coaches and players for his leadership and overall veteran presence within the quarterbacks room. He’s been a great help to both Taylor and rookie Baker Mayfield and that’s expected to be even more important when the season begins. We’ll get our first look at Stanton on the field tonight.
On this week’s “Hard Knocks,” we saw offensive coordinator Todd Haley, quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese and coach Hue Jackson discussing whether or not to play Roback in the preseason opener, and all three seemed impressed by what he’s accomplished thus far. The rookie from Eastern Michigan looked solid against the Giants and could receive another chance to impress tonight against the Bills.