Cleveland has been under the national spotlight all week, and we're just nine days away from that same kind of attention being shifted toward Berea for the start of Browns training camp.
The days of summer break certainly are dwindling during what is the final full week of no football until 2017.
How about some questions?
Who do you think has the best chance to make a Pro Bowl this year besides Joe Thomas? -- Shaheed H., Columbus
What a perfect first question for a mailbag in the middle of the summer. And as I like to do with my first question every week, I'm going to go beyond one, simple answer. I've got four to throw your way.
TE Gary Barnidge
The veteran tight end came out of nowhere to lead the Browns in receptions (79), receiving yards (1,043) and receiving touchdowns (nine) in 2015. He was reliable no matter who was under center and a threat to defenses no matter how they adjusted to contain him. He didn't make the initial Pro Bowl roster but found his way to Hawaii after a couple of tight ends in front of him couldn't play. The Browns hope to take the load off Barnidge's shoulders just a bit in 2016 with a new-look receiving corps, but that just might open things up a little more for him. Just look at what Cincinnati tight end Tyler Eifert was able to accomplish in Hue Jackson's offense in 2015.
OL Joel Bitonio
Will this be the year the third-year guard cracks the list? Injuries took a toll on Bitonio in 2015, but he was his solid and reliable self throughout his second season. At left guard, he teams with Thomas to give the Browns one of the best left sides to an offensive line in the NFL. Thomas and others felt Bitonio put together a Pro Bowl type season as a rookie but he wasn't able to crack the roster. Needless to say, he's definitely on the right trajectory.
DB Joe Haden
Redemption has been on Haden's mind for months, and it hasn't been affected by an offseason setback that kept him off the field throughout OTAs. Haden is hungry to get back to the kind of player who made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014. Reunited with defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who was in the same position when Haden made his first Pro Bowl, Haden has shown he has what it takes to be one of the league's top cornerbacks. It'd be one of the better bounceback stories in the league if he were able to accomplish it.
P Andy Lee
At 33, Lee has shown no signs of slowing down and registered one of the best seasons of his career in 2015, his first year with the Browns. Just a little more than half of Lee's 70 punts were returned, and he pinned 25 of them inside the 20-yard line. With a net average of 40.1 yards per punt, Lee notched his sixth season of 40 .
With the addition of four drafted WRs, (which I personally think they all make the the team), Terrelle Pryor's apparent continued improvement, and assuming Josh Gordon is in fact re-instated, can you see any other WR besides Andrew Hawkins making the cut? I think Hue and the team has put an emphasis on size and production with their first draft, which would indicate no. -- Jason R., Wake Forest, N.C.
First things first, Jackson and Co. are working with what they have on hand now, and Gordon remains on the reserve/suspended by commissioner list until further notice. With or without Gordon, the wide receivers might be the most intriguing position group to monitor during training camp for the reasons you just listed. There's a lot of talent and potential and just a little bit of veteran experience. Some names I wouldn't sleep on include veteran Marlon Moore, who is an ace on special teams, Taylor Gabriel, who had a fantastic rookie season in 2014, and Darius Jennings, who made the most of his opportunity late in the 2015 season.
Is there any reason why the NFL schedule makers have the Browns on the road for many of of their early-season games and then at home for many later-season games when the weather is lousy in Cleveland? Or is it just coincidence? -- Mark F., Allentown, Pennsylvania
I think you nailed it with the second part of the question. Making a schedule work for all 32 teams is a difficult task, and sometimes you're going to have quirks like the Browns have with the first half of theirs. It's best to embrace what Jackson said over and over again when this schedule was laid on his desk.
"We understand this is the schedule we've been dealt," Jackson said. "We've just got to have that mindset. We're going to pack a good team and go on the road and play good games."
What is Joe Haden's status? How has he been in practice and who will be the other cornerback alongside him? Thanks! -- Austin M., Toledo
Haden didn't participate in on-field drills throughout the spring, but his hope is to be ready to go at some point during training camp. He's been logging hours and hours of rehab behind the scenes in Berea for months, including a good part of the summer. As for who will play on the other side, veteran Tramon Williams, who started 15 games last season, is the man to beat until further notice.
I've been a Browns fan since 1966, living and dying with every play and game. I have the sense that the Browns have finally got it right by hiring Coach Hue Jackson. Would you say that an 'offensive' head coach tends to be more attractive to teams then a 'defensive' head coach? -- Nicholas H., Clinton Township, Michigan
Coaching hires typically go well beyond X's and O's, and that was clear with the Browns' hiring of Jackson. He was, however, part of an anomaly of sorts this offseason, as all seven hires around the league came from an offensive background. Just one year earlier, a number of coaches with defensive backgrounds (Rex Ryan, John Fox, Jack Del Rio, Dan Quinn) landed head coaching jobs.