Browns Mailbag

Browns Mailbag: One more round of questions before roster drops to 53

The month of August has been a grind for the Browns, but it's simultaneously flown by.

Cleveland will say hello to September tomorrow, and the regular season countdown soon will be in the double-digits. And within a few days, the 75-man roster will be down to 53.

The latter comes into focus in this week's Browns Mailbag.

On paper the Browns seem to have one of the deepest receiving corps in the division, if not the entire league. Should I burn that very "paper," or will our receivers live up to the hype? -- Mitch W., Marengo

There's depth that hasn't been seen at the position in years. There's no question about that. But that depth only can be considered valuable if the Browns deliver on the field when the games start to count toward the final record. And to this point, that's yet to be determined. But there's certainly a number of reasons to be optimistic.

The starting point is the emergence of Terrelle Pryor Sr. The former quarterback was released from the Browns around this time last year. Now, he's listed with the first-team offense on the depth chart, and it isn't by default. Pryor has earned the job and showed why he should be considered a big-play threat throughout the preseason against top defensive backs.

The other major point of optimism to emerge in training camp was the impact of Josh Gordon. The Pro Bowl wide receiver looked like his old self again last week in Tampa Bay, and that wasn't a surprise to anyone who's seen him practice since he returned from a quadriceps injury. After Thursday, Gordon will be sidelined for a month because of a four-game suspension. His expected Week 5 return promises have a big effect on a Browns receiving corps that likely will feature Pryor, rookie Corey Coleman, veteran Andrew Hawkins and whomever else makes the cut.

Good depth is only good if the bottom players in the group can be counted on to contribute. Over the next few days, Cleveland's coaches and front office will make their final evaluations on a group of receivers that is heavy on youth -- three draft picks in Ricardo Louis, Jordan Payton and Rashard Higgins -- but ripe with competition.

Did the preseason play of new OLBs make Mingo expendable? Will we see any other underperforming high draft picks traded or released? -- Ron K., Macedonia

The second part remains to be seen. On Monday, Browns coach Hue Jackson made it clear on the topic of roster cuts, saying "we let people go because there is a performance that we want.

It certainly is nice that the Browns have promising players at outside linebacker. Emmanuel Ogbah is back at the position after spending training camp on the defensive line and Joe Schobert continues to take on more responsibilities. Nate Orchard is entering just his second season and ended his rookie year on a high note. Still, every transaction is unique, and Jackson provided even more clarity on Mingo's after Monday's practice.

"It was the right move for everybody involved," Jackson said. "Mingo here, some things weren't happening for him. I understand that. He is a tremendous young man. I really enjoyed my time with him, but we didn't see a fit for him. We tried to move him to a lot of different spots. He played outside backer. We moved him inside. It is unfortunate it just didn't work. It was an opportunity for him to be in a better situation and an opportunity for us to get better, too. I think it was the best opportunity for both involved."

Take a look at the Cleveland Browns roster as of September 1, 2017.

Isaiah Crowell has been running the ball well this preseason. Do you think that Duke Johnson Jr. will be a big player in the run game this year, or do you think he will be mainly used through the air? -- Ami G., Chicago

Both Crowell and Johnson looked solid running the ball last week at Tampa, combining for 61 yards on 11 carries. Crowell toted it eight times while Johnson carried the ball three times. Ideally, the Browns would like to run the ball more than 11 times in a half with their top two running backs, so it's hard to say just how many carries Johnson will receive in 2016. That 8-3 ratio from Friday could be a sneak preview of what's to come, though, allowing Johnson to continue to make an impact as a pass-catcher.

What are the odds Terrell Watson plays enough to have a significant fantasy value? Is he seriously in play for the starting job and can he take it from Isaiah Crowell? - John L., Dallas

Crowell seems to have a firm grasp on the starting job after a strong preseason. Watson was the Browns' No. 3 option last week in Tampa Bay because of Raheem Mostert's hamstring injury. He'll be a player to watch Thursday as he continues to battle for a spot on the 53-man roster.

The O-line seems to be very T-heavy with Bailey, Coleman, Drango and France for backups. Is there any flexibility to G with any of those guys on the 53? Is a nine-man O-line room a good projection? Andy M., Acworth, Georgia

Bailey is currently working as the backup right guard and Drango projects as a versatile lineman in the NFL, so they're certainly capable of wearing multiple hats. Nothing is set in stone, but nine would be on the heavy side compared to most NFL rosters. Last year, the Browns typically carried seven on their 53-man roster.

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