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Training Camp

Ray Farmer sizes up an improved Cleveland Browns roster

Ray Farmer responded to the final question of his Friday press conference with four questions of his own.

Asked to compare the Browns' current 90-man roster to the one he watched at the start of last year's training camp, Farmer offered a point-by-point breakdown.

"Are we improved? Slightly." Farmer said. "Is there more growth to go? Absolutely. I don't hide behind the fact that are we where we want to be? No, we are not. Are we on the right track? I would say yes we are.

"It is like building a house. You can't put the curtains up before you have walls. It is just the order in which we are using to address things."

Sixty-eight of the 90 players competing for a spot on the Browns' 2015 53-man roster were not on the team when Farmer took over as general manager in February 2014. The players added since the close of the Browns' 7-9 2014 campaign have been added with the mindset that Cleveland will be a team that wins games on both sides of the line of scrimmage with a strong defense and a tough-running, ball-control offense.

Some of the biggest acquisitions from this past offseason have already proven to be among the team's top performers through the first two days of training camp. Josh McCown has shown command as the first-team quarterback, wide receivers Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline have relished their respective changes of scenery, veterans Randy Starks and Tramon Williams have fortified previously questionable spots on defense and even Andy Lee has stood out with his endless stream of booming punts.

"The pieces are in place for us to have success," Farmer said. "We just have to go out and demonstrate that we can."

The decisions for this year's 53-man roster won't be easy. Coach Mike Pettine has indicated they'll be even more challenging than last year because of how much the overall roster has been upgraded from a depth and talent standpoint.

That's a problem the Browns are welcoming and embracing in Year 2 of Pettine and Farmer.

"It all comes back to keeping the best players, regardless of position," Farmer said. "The Philadelphia Eagles one year kept 12 defensive backs. You never cut good players. The reality is we'll keep the best 53 guys for our roster."

One position battle that could drag into the final days of the preseason is kicker, as Farmer said the Browns will keep an eye on the waiver wire while rookies Carey Spear and Travis Coons compete at training camp.

The Browns and Farmer have a history of these types of decisions with kickers. Cleveland added Billy Cundiff to the roster just a few days before the 2013 season opener and Farmer, while he was with the Chiefs, saw a kicking competition that included Cundiff, Nick Novak, Connor Barth and Jay Feely end with none of them winning the job.

"It is a product of you have to find the right guy and inevitably make the right decision of who is going to be able to kick in your stadium and make kicks," Farmer said. "We like these guys. We think that they can kick off … They both have been accurate so far through camp. You have to make kicks. You have to make field goals and you have to give us the opportunity to cover kicks."

A photographic look at Day 2 of training camp.

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