Simply put, it's been an awesome four days to be back in Berea and on the field for Browns Training Camp. It was even better to see fans in the stands Friday and Saturday.
Now, on Sunday, the players rest, but we're still rolling.
It's a three-question Sunday for the Browns Mailbag, which will be deployed on most of the players' days off throughout the preseason.
What are the options at backup center? I am not sold on Nick Harris' versatility as he appeared to struggle at guard when called upon. Is Drew Forbes an option at the center position, which would allow for potentially keeping Forbes along with Michael Dunn and/or Blake Hance, who looked good in limited action at the end of the year as emergency replacements? — David J., Wooster
Javon Patterson has been working behind Harris with the third-team offense. Patterson, a former seventh-round pick by the Colts, spent the second half of 2020 on the Browns' practice squad and made his NFL debut Week 16 on special teams in the Browns' loss to the Jets. Forbes got some experience snapping the ball during his rookie season but has been primarily working as a guard since returning from his opt-out year.
At the end of the day, the Browns are looking to keep the best offensive linemen on the roster. Versatility is huge, and most of the players in the room are capable of playing multiple positions. There's some legitimate depth in the group, and that will make for some tough decisions at the end of August.
Check out photos from the fourth day of Browns Camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus
What are your thoughts on the potential of keeping four running backs (counting Demetric Felton) and reducing the WR room to five with Felton's versatility? — David J., Wooster
I think boxing yourself into specific numbers for position groups can lead to some false assumptions. When the Browns go into their final roster cuts, there are certainly ranges for numbers of players per position but it's flexible. Felton, of course, has been the definition of flexible throughout his football career, and he's been showing that ability ever since he arrived in Berea. On some days he's with the running backs for individual periods and on some days he's with the wide receivers. And when the team goes through 11-on-11 drills, Felton can be seen lining up at both spots.
That's by design.
"One of the things that was attractive to us with Demetric when we drafted him was just his versatility," Browns EVP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry said. "We do view his primary position at running back, but his ability to actually have legitimate position flex and create mismatches is something that we value. He has proven really since he got drafted just how smart he is because that is a really hard thing to do for any player, let alone a first-year player learning a new system. It is a credit to him. We are looking forward to seeing how he progresses throughout camp."
Felton, a sixth-round pick, will be fighting and competing for a spot on the roster. Whether or not his spot directly affects the numbers at wide receiver and running back remains to be seen. Getting down to 53 is always tricky, and it becomes an even tougher exercise when you have as much talent as the Browns do.
It seems like we have depth throughout the lineup, especially so at wide receiver. How many can we keep at wideout? — Bill T., Medina
The numbers, again, are fluid, so it's probably best not to restrict any particular group to a specific number. For what it's worth, the Browns kept six receivers when they cut down the roster to 53, and they wound up needing all of them to contribute in a big way throughout the season.
You're right about the depth and talent at the position as the Browns enter the 2021 season. It starts, of course, with Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., who give the Browns one of the league's most talented and accomplished 1-2 punch at the position. Just about everyone who backed those two up last year are back, including one of the longest tenured Browns, Rashard Higgins, KhaDarel Hodge and Donovan Peoples-Jones. All three stepped up in a big way when Beckham Jr. was lost for the season and proved to be reliable and productive options as starters.
So, just bring all five back and start preparing for Kansas City, right? Well, it's not that simple because the Browns added more talent to the room with third-rounder Anthony Schwartz, who has already made a number of plays through the first four days of camp. Then there's JoJo Natson and Ryan Switzer, both of whom are in the thick of a competition at punt returner and kick returner. Anthony Hollins and Ja'Marcus Bradley have also been on the receiving end of a number of top plays in the first part of camp. And then there's the aforementioned Felton, who is splitting his time as a running back and wide receiver.
The Browns are flush with options at the position. That much is clear. Filling out the final couple of spots in this room is an underrated, ongoing competition that will stretch all the way until rosters are required to be reduced to 53.