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Browns mailbag: Where are the Browns strongest, weakest heading into 2015 season?

The Browns were in Rochester, N.Y., for just a few days, but the impact was significant.

On the mailbag, that is.

Two of today's six questions come from The Flower City.

After observing a few weeks of camp and two preseason games, which position is standing out to you as the strongest and the weakest heading into the season? - Jonathan G., Rochester, N.Y.

When Mike Pettine and I chatted before the start of training camp, he broke down a roster that didn't seem as vulnerable as last year's. There wasn't one area where he thought an injury or two would wreak havoc and drastically alter the production level.

Building depth was a major point of emphasis throughout the offseason and, boy, has it been tested, as the Browns have had as many as 20 players at a time sidelined by various injuries. Still, the respective position groups have remained relatively productive, even the secondary, which had eight of its players out last week against the Bills.

Three Browns position groups have largely avoided the injury bug: Offensive line, tight end and inside linebacker. Of those three, the inside linebackers have looked the strongest throughout the preseason, as the group boasts three players who could be considered starters and another player whom coaches are trying to find more ways to get on the field beyond special teams.

On rare occasions, you'll see Karlos Dansby, Craig Robertson and Christian Kirksey on the field at the same time. More often, it's Dansby at one spot and Robertson and Kirksey rotating between the other. All three have played at a high level.

"We are pretty multiple," inside linebackers coach Chuck Driesbach said. "I think the guys are really tuned in and focused. I think that we are looking forward to a lot of good things from that room this year."

On top of that, Tank Carder has continued to impress. He's considered one of the Browns' core players on special teams, and Pettine recently said he hopes to get him more involved on defense. Rookie Hayes Pullard has also been solid in the team's first two preseason games.

The weakest is a tough call because of the aforementioned surplus of depth. The cop-out answer, though, is fullback.

Rookie Malcolm Johnson and Luke Lundy have each missed significant chunks of the preseason with their respective injuries. Johnson is working his way back while Lundy remains indefinitely sidelined with a concussion. Tight end E.J. Bibbs has been among the inexperienced group of players helping out at the position, which is considered a vital cog in John DeFilippo's offense.

Johnson was a standout during the early part of camp, and he's been hard to replace. It will be ideal to see more of him during the final two preseason games.

Have not heard Billy Winn's name thrown around lately. How has his preseason been going? Really liked what we saw out of Billy last season. Want to see more of him. Thanks -- Ernie M., Rochester, N.Y.

Winn has bounced back nicely from a scary injury at the start of training camp. After missing a couple of weeks with a knee/ankle injury, Winn has been back at full speed and recently played in the Browns' loss to the Bills. He's a veteran presence in a crowded defensive line room that will be hard to pare down when the roster is trimmed to 53.

We've all heard about the O-line, the D-line, the WRs and DBs, but what's the situation with the placekicker? Is Spear ahead? -- Morgan A., Ripon, Wisconsin

As we wrote earlier this week, the kicker competition is "neck and neck," as neither have missed any kicks, be it extra points or field goals. As it stands today, Travis Coons is listed No. 1 on the unofficial depth chart, but that's meant little, as both have rotated in the two preseason games. Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor sounded optimistic about the group Monday and said it probably wouldn't be necessary to add a veteran to the room near the end of camp.

I haven't heard anything good or bad about the right side of the offensive line. What kind of camp are Greco and Schwartz having and is it possible Erving or Bowie can replace either as starters? -- James J., Cincinnati

There have been no indications of changes along the offensive line. John Greco and Mitchell Schwartz have taken almost every snap with the first-team offense while Erving has rotated between second-team right guard and first-team left tackle when Joe Thomas rests. Michael Bowie has been out since last Thursday with a shoulder injury.

Who has the biggest impact out of these breakout candidates: Chris Kirksey, Xavier Cooper, Duke Johnson? -- Ethan B., Herndon, Virginia

All three have the potential for standout performances in 2015, but I'll stick with the player who has already proven it over a 16-game schedule. Kirksey had quite possibly the quietest 81-tackle season of anyone on the Browns, and he's appeared to take his game to another level heading into his sophomore NFL season.

"He came in this offseason and you could tell he had been looking at a lot of film," Driesbach said. "His inside run reads were a lot sharper and that carried over into practice."

What players currently on the Browns roster would be the best competitors on MTV's "The Challenge?" - Mike B., Cleveland

This is easily my favorite question since the mailbag began.

The Challenge requires a unique mix of athleticism, strength, speed, versatility and smarts. What better place to look than Tabor's special teams room for all of those? I'm going with the Browns core group of Johnson Bademosi, Marlon Moore, Ibraheim Campbell, Carder, Kirksey and Robertson.

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