Browns Mailbag

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Browns Mailbag: How does depth chart shake out after Joe Haden release?

The games are over, but this could be one of the busiest weekends in the year in the Berea. [



We're answering five of your questions as we await more roster moves.

What is our depth chart looking like among the DBs? Will Jason McCourty play CB or S? -- Dan G., Akron

Wednesday's news of the release of two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden sent shockwaves around the NFL and had an immediate impact on Cleveland's depth chart at the position. That said, the Browns are comfortable with a group that is expected to highlight Jamar Taylor, McCourty and Briean Boddy-Calhoun at the top cornerback spots. Boddy-Calhoun, in particular, had as strong of a training camp as anyone and made play after play in his three preseason games. His interception on the goal line helped preserve Cleveland's win over the Giants and his goal line tackle for loss against the Saints halted another scoring opportunity.

Who the Browns retain as their fourth and fifth cornerbacks remains up in the air 24 hours until rosters need to be reduced to 53. With all three of the aforementioned cornerbacks sidelined Thursday, Darius Hillary and Channing Stribling got the start. Stribling has since been released. That means a player such as Marcus Burley, who is a core special teamer, and Najee Murray, a former tryout player who projects as a slot corner, could be in better position to make the 53. Cleveland could also turn to the waiver wire much like it did last year when it claimed both Boddy-Calhoun and Burley.

Are the Browns targeting any players who they may be able to claim off waivers -- Matthew B., Springfield

With the top waiver claim priority, you better believe they are. But are they telling anyone, including this senior writer? No. We'll have to wait and see Sunday.

I like the stats on rookie defensive linemen Larry Ogunjobi and Caleb Brantley. How often do you think DC Gregg Williams will rotate them into the first game against the Steelers? -- Tom V., Chattanooga

Ogunjobi, who had another strong performance Thursday, has worked his way up the ranks and got a solid amount of playing time with the first-team defense when the Browns played in their dress rehearsal game against the Buccaneers. The former third-round pick has shown steady improvement, said he's gotten over a bad habit of "overanalyzing" and is now just playing off instincts.

Brantley, meanwhile, missed most of training camp and a good chunk of the preseason with injuries to his finger and shoulder. He got his most playing time Thursday, picking up the start alongside Ogunjobi and finishing with two tackles. He still has a good shot of making the 53, and if he does, he'll need to be ready to contribute. Williams indicated early in training camp he wants to rotate all of his defensive linemen to keep them fresh.

How's the kicking competition between Zane Gonzalez and Cody Parkey going, and if one wins what happens to the other? -- Anthony B., Oregon

It's truly a neck and neck battle, as both have shown off big legs and the kind of consistency Cleveland wants from its kickers. Gonzalez went 2-for-3 on field goals during the preseason and sailed all of his kickoffs for touchbacks. Parkey went 2-of-2 on field goals, connecting from 38 and 47 yards in the win over Tampa Bay. Both were perfect on extra points until Gonzalez hit one off the upright in Thursday's fourth quarter.

We'll find out Saturday who won the competition and we'll also see where the other lands. The Browns could always try to trade that kicker to a team that doesn't want to risk missing out on the waiver wire.

Why doesn't Rannell Hall get the recognition he deserves from the Browns leadership and Hue? It seems as though the only time his talents are featured is when a reporter specifically asks about some of the incredible receptions and his strength. Remember the so called monster hit by Peppers -- just one example of his durability. -- Mary D., Marietta

Hall has certainly gotten some recognition from both Hue Jackson and senior offensive assistant/wide receivers coach Al Saunders throughout training camp and made his final case for a roster spot by hauling in a 27-yard touchdown catch against the Bears on Thursday. It was a reflection of a strong preseason for Hall, who finished with seven receptions for 103 yards one year after suffering a season-ending injury in Cleveland's first preseason game of 2016.

"He's come back and you would never know he's had any injury," Saunders said recently. "He's better than he was when he got hurt. We're excited about the competition he's providing to all of those guys."

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