For very different reasons, Browns coach Mike Pettine identified kicker and wide receiver as the two position groups with the most uncertainty heading into training camp.
The first was an admitted obvious choice for Pettine, as the two kickers currently on the Browns' roster, Carey Spear and Travis Coons, have never kicked in an NFL game. Both got their experience in high-profile college environments (Spear in the SEC at Vanderbilt, Coons in the Pac-12 at Washington) but neither have experienced the pressure cooker of an NFL stadium on a Sunday.
"They've been at the driving range all spring and now they're getting ready to walk out in front of a gallery and in front of their teammates and have to make pressure kicks," Pettine said. "That's what the NFL is all about is making pressure kicks, being accurate. We'll see and we'll work with those guys and try to simulate as much pressure situations in practice."
One of those simulations will occur at next week's Orange and Browns scrimmage at Ohio Stadium. Pettine told ClevelandBrowns.com there will be a kicking competition at halftime in a setting he described as "essentially a fifth preseason game." The kickers will also take periodic trips to FirstEnergy Stadium to get accustomed to the elements.
Wide receiver, meanwhile, has no shortage of qualified candidates to fill the five, six or seven spots the coaches deem appropriate for the 53-man roster. The reason there's uncertainty, though, stems from the numerous new faces who will fill premier roles.
Free agents Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline joined the team in March and were fixtures with the first-team offense throughout OTAs and mini-camp. The Browns used a fourth-round pick on Vince Mayle, who wasn't able to catch passes at OTAs because of a broken thumb but will be active at training camp. Andrew Hawkins is coming off a career year and expectations are elevated for Taylor Gabriel after a strong rookie season and encouraging spring. And a handful of other new faces, including former quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Josh Lenz, are vying for one of the final roster spots.
"I think that's a group where there's a lot of questions to be answered," Pettine said. "It will be interested to see how it all plays out."