The fifth and final Browns Mailbag of May is here, and we're tackling three of your questions on this fifth Friday of the fifth month of 2020.
Nick Chubb may be winning the rushing title. How will they fill out the RB group? Any chance Lemay or Herrien make the cut? It was curious to see them double down here. WR & OL made ton of sense to add bodies with lottery ticket chance of making the team. — Mark R., Star Valley
Over the past few months, the Browns have added players at every position group. That's what you do when you build up the roster to 90 at this time of year. The Browns now have six running backs on the roster after signing Brian Herrien (Georgia) and Benny LeMay (Charlotte) as undrafted free agents. They'll be fighting for roster spots in a group that was among the most stable on the entire team last season.
Chubb and Kareem Hunt are poised to provide one of the better one-two punches in the NFL. That much is known. Who will be behind them, though, will be figured out in training camp. Dontrell Hilliard and D'Ernest Johnson, both of whom were on the roster from start to finish last year, are among the top candidates. Perhaps most importantly, Hilliard and Johnson were core special teams players in 2019. That will be a must for Herrien and LeMay if they hope to land a roster spot.
Herrien and LeMay had very different college experiences. At Georgia, Herrien was bogged down a loaded depth chart that included the likes of Chubb, Sony Michel and DeAndre Swift throughout his career. Still, he found ways to contribute, rushing 277 times for 1,413 yards and 13 touchdowns. He impressed his teammates with his toughness and earned the Frank Sinkwich Award because of it. LeMay, meanwhile, was THE MAN at Charlotte, carrying the ball a whopping 596 times for 3,232 yards and 22 scores while also registering 54 receptions for 640 yards and six touchdowns.
Another factor to consider: The Browns will be deploying a fullback in 2020, something they haven't done in recent seasons. Does that mean the fullback (or two) they keep on the 53-man roster will cut into how many running backs they keep? We'll have to wait and see.
The Browns' 2020 regular-season schedule has been released. Check out how the season unfolds with this photo gallery
Last year it seemed as though the chemistry between Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr. seemed to struggle. Do you think that with the lack of practice time they will continue to struggle to find chemistry in the upcoming season or will they come out of the gates on the same page? — Brooks P., Cincinnati
Considering Beckham is recovering from offseason surgery, the lack of throwing time they're getting together now because of the COVID-19 pandemic probably doesn't matter all that much. It was always going to be about what they accomplished in training camp.
Earlier this week, Mayfield was confident about how Beckham and Jarvis Landry would respond from a 2019 season that was largely viewed as a disappointment because of the team's final record and inconsistency on offense. He's liked what he's seen so far as the Browns virtually install a new offense.
"I think what we are doing right now in these Zoom meetings and these installs has created a great foundation for scheme-wise being on the same page," Mayfield said. "I have enjoyed kind of sitting in and listening in on some of the receiver meetings with (pass game coordinator/wide receivers) Coach (Chad) O'Shea. He is a very sharp guy, as well. Those guys are working extremely hard after their surgeries for the rehab process. They look really good, and they say they feel really good. It appears that way. It is just a different mindset going into it.
"I think they went back to the basics. They are ready to take over, and it is their time now. They know that. We only have so many more opportunities together. They are going to do it and everything for each other. I am looking forward to seeing the productivity they have."
What is the most compelling matchup on this season's schedule, and why? — Nick D., Wayne, West Virginia
The Browns open the season with the Ravens, and that's going to be a good one, but I'm picking the second matchup between these teams because, hopefully, there should be so much at stake when the AFC North rivals meet Week 14 for Monday Night Football.
Since Mayfield took over as the starter, three of the four matchups with the Ravens have been absolutely riveting. Baltimore seemingly brings the best out of Cleveland's starting quarterback while simultaneously presenting him with plenty of in-game adversity. In Week 5 of 2018, the Ravens made life miserable for Mayfield all the way until the end of overtime, when he delivered one of the most clutch throws of his career to undrafted rookie Derrick Willies, and the Browns escaped with a game-winning field goal. In Baltimore this past year, Mayfield had one of his best games of 2019 in the team's best win of the season. In the 2018 season finale, Mayfield had moments of brilliance but the Browns came up just short on a potential game-winning drive.
With reigning MVP Lamar Jackson at helm in Baltimore, this is a pre-existing rivalry that is set to really take off. Again, the season opener should be great. But in Week 14, both teams should be playing for the playoffs with minimal margin for error. If the Browns win here, they'll feel pretty good heading down a stretch that includes back-to-back games in New York before a home finale with the Steelers.