One Month

That’s right folks!  There’s only one month until the Browns first preseason kickoff, and I couldn’t be more ready for football!  Last year I listened to most of the preseason games on the radio from a beach in Hawaii.  This year I will most likely be enjoying the air conditioning in front of my TV in lovely, humid Ohio.  But that’s ok!  Because I have high hopes for this team and this season.  Which is a shocker, I’m sure.  A hopeful Browns fan… Because I’m super original. Anyway, I am determined not to sound (too) jaded until at least the third game of the regular season.  So with all the positivity I can muster, let me introduce the starting lineup of your 2014 Cleveland Browns… you know, according to me:

 Offense

Left Guard: Joel Bitonio     Center: Alex Mack     Right Guard: Garrett Gilkey

Left Tackle: Joe Thomas                                                                              Right Tackle: Mitchell Schwartz

Tight End: Jordan Cameron    Wide Receiver: Miles Austin   Wide Receiver: Andrew Hawkins

Quarterback: Brian Hoyer

Running Back: Ben Tate                                        Fullback: Chris Ogbannaya

Defense

Defensive End: Ahtyba Rubin      Nose Tackle: Phil Taylor      Defensive End: Desmond Bryant

Linebackers:             Paul Kruger             Chris Kirksey             Karlos Dansby              Jabaal Sheard

Safeties: Tashaun Gipson                                                  Donte Whitner

Cornerbacks: Joe Haden                                                                                                                    Buster Skrine

Special Teams

Kicker: Jake Rogers                                                      Kick Returner: Justin Gilber

Punter/Holder: Spencer Lanning                                Punt Returner: Travis Benjamin

Long Snapper: Christian Yount                              Gunner: Johnson Bademosi

Admittedly, training camp hasn’t started, and there is going to be fierce competition for some positions.  Right now, the most unsettled spots on the field are probably… Right Guard—Gilkey is going to have to compete for the spot against former starters John Greco and Jason Pinkston.  Greco had footwork problems last year, but he’s rumored to have cut some weight during the offseason.  With Pinkston there are major injury concerns.  If Gilkey continues to look like the grittiest option on the field, he will likely win out. Left Inside Linebacker—Kirksey is going to have to beat out Craig Robertson for his spot inside.  Robertson was easily the weakest link in the box last season, so Kirksey has an excellent shot at getting the nod. Cornerback—Skrine is competing for his starting spot against the Browns’ number one overall pick in this year’s draft, Justin Gilbert.  People might call me crazy (actually they have said just that), but I’ve been on the Skrine-train since early last season.  He is easily the most improved player on the roster over the last three years, and if rumors from OTAs can be believed, he looks confident and capable on the field, while Gilbert looks a little timid.  I think Skrine hangs on to his starting role, giving the rookie more time to develop. Quarterback—Oh man, I don’t even know if I want to get into this, but… it’s Brian Hoyer all the way for me, folks.  Between the reports of his excellent performance during OTAs and the way Manziel has been acting off the field, I don’t think there’s any question at this point (although I realize things could change during training camp) that Hoyer deserves this leadership role.

Getting to 53—Here’s how I would fill out the rest of the 53-man roster at this point in the offseason: Offensive Line—John Greco, Jason Pinkston, Paul McQuistan, Reid Fragel Tight Ends—Jim Dray, Gary Barnidge Wide Receivers—Nate Burleson, Anthony Armstrong, Charles Johnson Running Backs—Terrance West, Dion Lewis, Edwin Baker Quarterback—Johnny Manziel Defensive Line—Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, Billy Winn, Armonty Bryant, John Hughes Linebackers—Craig Robertson, Barkevious Mingo, Tank Carder, Eric Martin Defensive Backs—Jordan Poyer, Pierre Desir, Leon McFadden, Isaiah Trufant

Plus, your 8-Dude Practice Squad— Ray Agnew (FB), Calvin Barnett (NT), Isaiah Crowell (RB), Darius Eubanks (LB), Cam Henderson (DE), Chandler Jones (WR), Connor Shaw (QB), Justin Staples (LB)

Whatcha think?

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