Browns Mailbag

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Browns Mailbag: How much will Jabrill Peppers get his hands on the ball?

Tackling five of your questions before the Browns hit the field for their first training camp practice of 2017. [



Can we expect Jabrill Peppers to touch the ball five to six times a game from punt returns and offensive contributions? -- Greg Z., Richmond, Texas

A question of this nature provided one of the more lighthearted moments during Wednesday's press conference with coach Hue Jackson and executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown. Jackson was asked how the Browns plan to use Peppers, their second of three first-round picks, and the coach needed just five words to answer it.

"Every which way I can."

Peppers became one of college football's most well-known and popular players because of the versatility he displayed during his Michigan career. He played linebacker, safety, returned punts and kicks and, perhaps most notably, took some carries as a running back. Over his last two seasons, Peppers ran the ball 45 times and caught 10 passes -- all while playing basically every snap on defense.

A number of players wear multiple hats in college only to focus on one, specific position in the NFL. And while Peppers is a safety first and foremost, the Browns aren't shying away from exploring and digging into his vast skill set.

"How much can he handle? He is very smart, first off. He has been a sensational defensive addition for us. Very talented back there. Still growing. There are some things that he still has to learn, but we all know that he has had some skill on the offensive side of the ball," Jackson said. "I do not see any reason why we would stop him from doing something that he may be very good at."

It seems that Hue Jackson has his hands full as the Browns head coach. Will he be calling offensive plays typically called by an OC? -- Tom V., Chattanooga

Jackson does have a demanding job as an NFL head coach but he's proven more than capable of managing the various responsibilities. He called plays last year and will continue to do so this season. He explained why he does this shortly after the 2016 season.

"Until I get this organization where I need it to be, I need to continue to do what I have done in the past to play winning football," he said.

Do you think that Nate Orchard and/or Cam Johnson could switch from linebacker to defensive end and be more productive? -- Benjamin S., Mogadore

Both made the switch to defensive end at the start of the offseason workout program and both expressed excitement about the move. Johnson and Orchard were 4-3 defensive ends at their respective college programs and each looks like a natural with his hand in the dirt.

Orchard, in particular, could see a big boost in production after struggling a bit as a rookie and missing most of 2016 with an ankle injury. As a senior at Utah, Orchard led the nation with 18.5 sacks.

"Being able to play outside linebacker my first two years, it was good to get that experience under my belt," Orchard said. "Now that I'm back to my original position I've been playing since I was a little kid, it's fun to be able to do that."

Will you share your thoughts about which position will be the most improved and most impressive among offensive line, defensive line, defensive backfield, offensive backfield, defense, special teams, tight ends, quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, etc. -- David R., Carlsbad, California

I think you nailed it with the first two groups you mentioned. The Browns invested heavily in their offensive line during free agency, bringing in JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler to fortify center and guard and only have one question mark (right tackle) heading into camp. On the other side of the ball, Cleveland added three talented rookies, including No. 1 pick Myles Garrett, to a defensive line that also returns veteran Desmond Bryant, who missed all of last season with an injury, and has multiple players returning to their respective comfort zones as 4-3 ends.

I've heard that Ricardo Louis is progressing well, but I'm concerned about the talent at WR. Are we setting up our QB to be successful with the WRs we have? -- Duncan M., Honolulu

The Browns have a proven, 1,000-yard receiver in Kenny Britt and a talented former first-round pick in Corey Coleman slated to be the top targets for whomever wins the starting quarterback job. You're right about Louis; he looked much more comfortable at the position during OTAs and minicamp and is one of the most physically gifted athletes on the entire team. Behind him, the Browns are encouraged by the progress of Rashard Higgins and Jordan Payton and were uplifted this spring by the return of Rannell Hall. On Wednesday, Brown didn't rule out the possibility of adding to the group via free agency or the waiver wire.

"If there are opportunities out there to add a receiver and it makes sense for the club, we will do that," Brown said. "We will continue to talk through that with the coaching staff. We are not panicked at the position. We think we have a lot of young guys. We have some great coaches, and a lot of guys have taken big steps. We saw that in the spring. Until we are as productive as we want to be – we were far away from that last year – at that position, we will continue to try to improve it."

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