The grandstands are being built. The practice fields are being lined. The field goal posts are being raised.
Training camp is now just over a week away, and the grounds crew and construction workers at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus are in full force to get the area ready for one of the most exciting times of the year. Just one more weekend separates us from the first practice open to fans, the first of 11 total open practices that always brings a little extra juice during the sunny, hot workdays in Berea.
We're going through another round of Mailbag questions this week to prepare for it as well. Three are on tap for today. Let's dive in.
How many defensive tackles will make the final 53 and will Winfrey compete for a starting position? - Rob McCoy, Fairmont WV
There's been a lot of buzz about Winfrey ever since the Browns drafted him in the fourth round — understandably so after he was ranked one of the top defensive tackles of the draft class and delivered an electrifying introductory Zoom call after he joined the team.
Winfrey will certainly have a chance to compete for a starting job in training camp, although he'll have to compete for it against a six other guys also looking to prove their talents to defensive line coach Chris Kiffin. Taven Bryan and Jordan Elliott were the primary players on first team reps through the spring, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the Browns give Winfrey looks on the top team in training camp to see what he can offer.
"This is a guy we're really excited about," Kiffin said in a “Browns Breakdowns” video. "We're excited to get him in the building. He's a scheme fit for us … He's going to bring a lot of energy, and he wants to work when he's out there."
The Browns kept five defensive tackles among their eight total D-Linemen on the initial 53-man roster last year. It's too early to predict how many they'll keep this year, but Winfrey figures to be part of the group.
Check exclusive photos of Browns players posing for a team photoshoot
Why have the Browns not signed Perrion Winfrey? Is there a problem? - Joseph Shockney, Dallas, TX
Nope, no problem. Sometimes these situations take a while into the summer to be finalized. Winfrey is the only Browns' draft pick currently unsigned, but there's several other draft picks around the league who have yet to sign, too.
It's not uncommon for players to remain unsigned in the days leading up to training camp — last year, Greg Newsome II and Anthony Schwartz both signed on July 24.
With the Browns having such a loaded running back room, would the Browns try to use the pistol formation more in 2022? Do you think the Browns have the best running game in the league? - Ken Piper, Dorset, OH
The question of how much Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will play on the field at the same time has been constantly raised each of the last four offseasons since Hunt joined the Browns. It's fun to think about, but a Chubb-Hunt package has seldom been used so far even though the run game has still been wildly successful.
The Browns are expected to add new wrinkles and possibly make other big changes to their offense this year. That might include using Chubb and Hunt in a pistol formation, or perhaps plays where they're both on the field but Hunt actually lines up outside as a receiver. Both of those looks were used at times during spring practices, but we likely won't know for sure how big they'll be a part of the offense until training camp.
What we do know is this: The possibilities for what Chubb and Hunt can do each week are endless. The Browns have finished top four in the league in rushing the last two seasons, and that ranking is certainly attainable again with both players returning in 2022.