Clouds are rolling in to Berea, but we're staying dry as we answer five of your questions in this week's mailbag [
As the QB competition heats up, what do you think will be the biggest determinant on who gets the starting nod? Is it preseason games? Practice performance? Accuracy? -- Brooks P., Cincinnati
As Brock Osweiler mentioned last week, nothing the quarterbacks do from the moment they arrive at the facility to when they depart late in the evening goes without scrutiny. Cameras are watching their every step on the practice field and the film is analyzed from all angles during the hours when they aren't on it. Needless to say, the decision Hue Jackson makes, whenever it's made, will be a thorough one that factors a lot of what you mentioned in the question.
The one aspect that remains open-ended is the part about preseason games. Jackson has said he'd prefer to name a starter before next week's preseason opener against the Saints but didn't say it was the hard and fast deadline. So, if the Browns reach next Thursday without a decision, you better believe the game will have a significant impact on it. If a decision is made beforehand, you can probably trace it back to how Friday's Orange & Brown Scrimmage unfolded and the shakeup in reps during the subsequent days.
"They come out every day and compete," Jackson said Wednesday. "They know that at some point in time that I am going to step in the room and say, 'Hey, this is the direction that we are traveling.' I think they understand that."
With Peppers pretty much already guaranteeing himself either SS or FS, who's likely to fill in the other safety spot. Will it be someone like Jason McCourty? Or Calvin Pryor? -- Trevor N., Chardon
Starting with Peppers, nothing has been guaranteed to any of Cleveland's players, especially the rookies. If Peppers is to start this season, it will be because he's earned the role. He's played well so far but has largely lined up with the second- or third-team defense.
"You get what you put out," he said. "The thing I'm going to do is continue to work hard and continue to show them what I can do. The tape doesn't lie. If you put good things on tape, good things are going to happen to you. That is what my mindset is going to be."
As for the other safeties, Derrick Kindred and Ibraheim Campbell have largely worked with the first team, especially in the wake of Ed Reynolds II's knee injury. Kindred was playing well as a rookie before his season was derailed by an ankle injury. He's been hitting hard and tracking well as the center fielder in Cleveland's secondary.
How many undrafted rookies possibly make this team? One in particular, Channing Stribling? -- Marcus R., Chula Vista, Calif.
It's a tough guess every year but there always seems to be a couple who defy the odds and land on the 53-man roster. It's hard to pinpoint specific players at this point in camp, but a little easier to identify position groups that may be more susceptible than others. Linebacker and the defensive backfield come to mind first because of the uncertainty behind the likely starters and the sheer amount of undrafted free agents. At linebacker, Cleveland is using three undrafted free agents -- Kenneth Olugbode, Ladell Fleming and B.J. Bello behind three veterans. In the secondary, there are opportunities at cornerback and safety for an undrafted free agent or two to take one of the final spots in the room. Kai Nacua and Alvin Hill have each made plays in recent practices.
Would the Browns ever possibly consider putting Calvin Pryor as a middle linebacker in the 4-3 scheme if no one steps up to fill that void? He could possibly be a better Deone Bucannon. -- Ian F., Phoenix
Can't rule anything out now, but that's not something we've seen through the first week of practice. Pryor is learning his new defense as a safety and has gotten work with the second- and third-team units. As for middle linebacker, an emerging player at the position is Joe Schobert, whom linebackers coach Blake Williams said was miscast as an outside linebacker last season
Assuming Kenny Britt, Corey Coleman and Ricardo Louis are 1, 2, 3 on the depth chart, who has the best shot right now of being the 4, 5, 6 WR on the Browns final 53? -- Craig S., Bridgeport
It's honestly too early to tell because a pecking order has yet to surface. If the Browns go with six at the position, players such as Rannell Hall, Jordan Payton, Rashard Higgins, James Wright and Mario Alford are among the likely contenders. The Browns haven't ruled out adding veteran depth to the position over the course of the next couple of weeks, either.