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Browns Mailbag: What does Josh McCown's solid spring mean for QB competition?

What can you accomplish in 74 days?

That's how many the Browns have at their disposal before their season opener at Philadelphia.

It's just around the corner, but there's oh so much to do.

The following four questions certainly will have clearer answers 74 days from now than they do today, but we're giving them our best shot in this week's mailbag.

So in all the accounts that I've been reading is that while Robert Griffin III has looked all right, Josh McCown has looked very impressive. So what are the chances that the resurrection of RGIII will be delayed a year by Josh? -- Grant B., Fort Lee, Virginia

Let's start with the first aspect of your question. It's true McCown looked impressive throughout the Browns' offseason workout program but subjective when compared to any of the other quarterbacks. He had impressive moments during his first season with the Browns, including a record-setting performance against the Ravens, and has been healthy since the start of the program. Remember, he was banged up through his last couple of starts last season before he was permanently sidelined with a clavicle injury.

So McCown has looked a lot like he did at this time last year, when he seized the starting job and ran with it before injuries disrupted his season. And that, coach Hue Jackson said, was to be expected.

"I would expect Josh to throw the ball as well as he does," Jackson said. "He's been playing football in this league for a long time."

As it stands today, and will stand for at least another month, the Browns' quarterback competition is ongoing. No official pecking order has been established, but Griffin and McCown certainly received the lion's share of work with the first- and second-team offense during sessions viewed by reporters. As associate head coach - offense Pep Hamilton said in May, McCown is competing for the job just like the other four. That's what makes it a true competition.

"He has field credibility, not only just in the quarterback room, but throughout our locker room," Hamilton said. "It has always been beneficial, just in my experience, to have veteran guys around. They have been a tremendous resource and he has been a tremendous resource, not only for our quarterbacks but for our entire team. He is competing with all our other quarterbacks to earn the right to be the starting quarterback."

As for Griffin, Jackson has been consistent in his praise of the fifth-year signal caller. Griffin is also coming off an entire season away from the football field, something he shares with one of his competitors, Connor Shaw. McCown and Davis started games for the Browns in 2015 while rookie Cody Kessler took all of the snaps at USC.

Jackson couldn't say it enough but said it again and again any time he was asked about Cleveland's situation at quarterback. The competition is far from over, and the quarterback who rises to the top when practice starts ramping up in July and August will be the one chosen to lead the team.

"(Griffin) looks natural to me," Jackson said. "He's checking the ball down, throwing the ball down the field and throwing the ball into tight spaces. He's improved. We all have seen that. Let's be honest, he has. There's another step. He's just getting better every day. He's just got to continue to chase that. If he does, we'll just see where he gets to. He's talented, but there is still work to be done."

The Browns took to the field to finish the three-day veterans' minicamp.

I have thought for a long time that the Browns are not taking Connor Shaw seriously. Does he actually have a shot at making the team? -- David A., Salem

That Shaw is an active member on the team's 90-man roster and one of five quarterbacks competing for a starting job is more than enough to show the Browns are taking him seriously. It's unclear how many quarterbacks the Browns intend to keep when they narrow the roster down to 53, and that's a decision that likely won't be made until those transactions are due in September. They carried three throughout most of last season, and occasionally had four quarterbacks "on campus" when counting the practice squad. If Shaw doesn't crack the top two, it's worth noting he's still eligible to be a practice squad player.

How improved is Nate Orchard this year? He looked as though he was starting to "figure it out" at the end of last season. Thanks! -- Jeff S., Dayton

You're certainly correct in your second sentence. Orchard got better before everyone's eyes game by game last season, and he's trying to ride that momentum into his second year. At a position like outside linebacker, it's far too early to tell just how improved a player is until the pads go on. Orchard has said he's focused on making the big plays Cleveland's defense lacked in 2015 and wants to relive what he felt in December against the 49ers, when he collected the first two sacks of his career.

With Danny Shelton recently shedding some weight, do you feel he will get more opportunity to shed defenders … in the form of a three-down threat? -- Adam R., Erie, Pennsylvania

That was the ultimate goal when Shelton began a weight-loss regimen that allowed him to drop 30 pounds before the end of the Browns' offseason program. Shelton started 15 games during his rookie season but was on the field for roughly half of the snaps.

Count defensive line coach Robert Nunn among those who have been impressed with the second-year nose guard.

"He can do so many more things at the weight he's at right now and the condition he is in," Nunn said. "He's got to keep that, and time will tell. He's the one that controls that. I can only help him so much. The strength coaches can only help him so much. Coach Jackson can only help him so much. He's really in a good place right now.

"I see him being more than a first- and second-down player. Will he be in on every nickel package situation? No, but he will be in there against certain people."

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