In today's edition of "The Sunday Five," we take a look at how much playing time Mohamed Massaquoi and Phil Taylor will get against the Ravens today, the less-talked-about debut of defensive lineman Ronnie Cameron, Owen Marecic's demotion at fullback, and more.
A few weeks ago in The Sunday Five, I talked about how the Browns should handle their wide receiver situation when both Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin were available to play again. I originally thought the Browns would stick Massaquoi back into the starting lineup, but now I think we'll see him as the third receiver. During training camp, the formula was to have Greg Little play the slot in three-receiver sets, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that against the Ravens today. You can still get Josh Cooper involved in the gameplan by alternating him and Massaquoi on certain plays, or using him in four-receiver sets. I still think the odd man out is going to be Travis Benjamin. His reps were limited compared to Cooper last week against the Chargers, and one of his purposes in 2012 was supposed to be his ability to stretch the field. I think Gordon has filled that void, making Benjamin a little less valuable at this point. You've got to keep Joshua Cribbs active for his special teams role.
Welcome back, Phil Taylor. As excited as I am to see Taylor back in action, it's tough to say what we'll see with the second-year defensive tackle. He got off to a very good start at the beginning of last season, but started to fade as the year went on. With all of the time he has had off, and not having gone through training camp, will Taylor be able to have a visible impact right off the bat? I do know one thing -- the 6-3, 335 pounder won't go down in a one-on-one situation, and he could draw a few more double teams to allow a guy like D'Qwell Jackson to make a play on Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce.
Taylor does not represent the only change on the defensive line this week. Before last week's game, Brian Sanford was activated from the practice squad, since Ahtyba Rubin wasn't going to be able to play. After the game, defensive end Emmanuel Stephens was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury. As the week progressed, Sanford was missing practice with a knee injury. I imagine he could have returned in a couple of weeks, but the team decided to place him on injured reserve as well so they weren't thin at the position this week.
As a result, the Browns activated defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron from the practice squad. If you recall, Cameron was a hot undrafted free agent commodity during the preseason, and the Browns got him off waivers from the Chicago Bears. Cameron made an impression during his short time with the club in training camp, and I look forward to seeing how he plays in a limited role against the Ravens too. Cameron is pumped about the opportunity as well:
"I was just happy, happy to have an opportunity to help this team," Cameron said. "That’s all I’ve been waiting for, an opportunity to help this team get some wins, especially, this week. It’s a big week coming up and playing Baltimore. Whatever I can do, whatever capacity I could be in to help, that’s what I’m looking forward to doing."
According to Adam Caplan, the Browns worked out LB Ricky Elmore (sixth-round pick by the Packers in 2011) and DE Hall Davis (fifth-round pick by the Titans in 2010) earlier in the week. They ended up signing Davis to their practice squad.
The Browns listed Alex Smith ahead of Owen Marecic on their depth chart this week, which has to be a telling sign that Marecic's time in Cleveland is coming to an end. I wouldn't be surprised if Marecic is inactive for another week or two, and then released. That would allow the Browns to bring up Brad Smelley from the practice squad and play him without wasting a year of eligibility for the practice squad next season. I wouldn't say we can trust Smith carrying the football, but we never gave it to Marecic either. Smith already caught a pass last week, and on those plays where teams leave the fullback unguarded, he can make things happen.
It's that time of the week again to predict the gameday inactives for Cleveland. It's starting to drive me nuts that I can't get a perfect 7-of-7 on these inactives. Chances are, I'm not going to achieve that this week, since there is some uncertainty as to who will be inactive with the return of WR Mohamed Massaquoi. Nonetheless, I'll take a stab at it: RB Brandon Jackson, FB Owen Marecic, WR Travis Benjamin, OL Jarrod Shaw, DT Ahtyba Rubin, CB Dimitri Patterson, and S Eric Hagg. This is the first week in awhile in which Tashaun Gipson was a full participant in practice, and he should be back in ahead of Hagg because the coaching staff loved him on special teams. They also seemed to like Gipson better than Hagg on defense too. I think there is an outside chance that Cleveland decides to play with six receivers, in which case I think they would make LB Tank Carder inactive.