The Browns’ offseason program is over, summer break is here and we’re knocking out five of your queries before it’s time for Father’s Day weekend.
Besides Denzel Ward now taking first-team reps, what other newly signed free agents are also taking first-team reps? -- Ian F., Phoenix
That’s a good, timely question, and it allows us to lay out what we saw through a month’s worth of OTAs and minicamp.
Among the team’s nine drafted rookies, Ward, the fourth overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, has been the most active with the first team. He earned that promotion during the latter portion of OTAs and has looked every bit of what the Browns expected from him when they used their second of two first-round picks on him.
“He is very talented. Good speed, good quickness,” defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker said. “The thing that I talk to him a lot about is just learning the NFL game. I know that athletically he is talented, but again, just continuing to help him with the IQ part of it, learning our scheme and just trying to put everything together to help him reach his ceiling.”
Running back Nick Chubb has worked in and out with the first team in a rotation with veteran Carlos Hyde. Second-round offensive lineman Austin Corbett has mostly played with the second team as he lines up at a variety of spots.
All three of the Browns’ trade acquisitions -- QB Tyrod Taylor, WR Jarvis Landry and DB Damarious Randall -- have been with their respective first teams. As for the free agents, DB T.J. Carrie has more often than not been with the first-team defense as he competes against fellow signees E.J. Gaines and Terrance Mitchell. Chris Hubbard has manned right tackle from Day 1 of OTAs. Hyde has been the first-team running back and been lauded for his leadership. Tight end Darren Fells, who is well regarded for his blocking, has been a first-team contributor depending on the formation. Same goes for DL Chris Smith.
What happened to running back Matt Dayes from NC State? He was a great running back and receiver at NC State for four years and was not used much at all last year in light of how bad things went for the Browns. While college play is not the same as the pros, it's tough to tell what you have if you don't play someone, especially in the bad times. I was quite surprised that the coaches never let him play to see what he could do. -- Ralph D., Raleigh
Dayes, the second-to-last selection in the 2017 Draft, finished his rookie season with five carries for 13 yards and four receptions for 29 yards. His biggest play of the year came on special teams, when he returned a kickoff 71 yards against the Vikings in London. The Browns simply relied on the players in front of Dayes on the depth chart, making it tough to get him offensive snaps. The challenge remains this year, as the Browns’ backfield features Hyde, Chubb and Duke Johnson Jr. Dayes will be fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster, and he’ll be doing it as both a running back and a special teams cog.
What happened to the slot receiver we acquired from Philly last year. Wore No. 10? -- Matthew R., Lakewood
That would be Bryce Treggs. The Browns signed him off the Eagles’ practice squad in early October and ultimately waived him two months later. He had five catches for 79 yards in six games, one of which he started. Treggs rejoined the Eagles’ practice squad in mid-December and remained with the team through their Super Bowl run. He was added to Philadelphia’s 90-man roster in February.
Andrew, do you think Derrick Kindred will make the team? There hasn't been much about him this offseason. -- Bill N., Massillon
He’s certainly in a great position at this point of the offseason. The third-year defensive back out of TCU is locked into a competition with Jabrill Peppers at strong safety and was the target of plenty of praise Thursday when the team’s coordinators and assistant coaches met with reporters.
“The competition that is going on between (Peppers) and Derrick Kindred is lights out,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. “Derrick Kindred is one of the best strong safeties I have had the chance to coach in my career in the run game and zone pass game. Jabrill has those same instincts, and Jabrill is really, really good around the ball and having a chance to make plays on the ball, which is important. What has been fun is to watch how both of them have been pushing each other and how far they have taken steps pushing each other.”
Kindred has appeared in 26 games (15 starts) over two seasons, both of which ended on the injured reserve, with the Browns. He has 103 tackles and an interception.
How has Chris Hubbard looked at RT and who has stood out at LT and/or RT so far with the free agents and UDFA pickups they landed? I feel they got some pretty good guys. What's your opinion? -- Justin B., New Madison
Hubbard has been a solid, reliable addition to the Browns offensive line. Only on occasion have the Browns used him at anywhere but first-team right tackle. At a practice earlier this week, Hubbard was seen at left tackle while Corbett worked on the right side. Browns coach Hue Jackson indicated that wasn’t a likely solution to the team’s opening at left tackle. He indicated he’d like to keep the four other spots -- LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Kevin Zeitler and Hubbard at RT -- set as he looks to replace Joe Thomas at left tackle.