Many fans believe rookie linebacker James-Michael Johnson will take over Scott Fujita's starting role early on.
Rookie report to training camp this Tuesday, and the rest of the team reports this Thursday. The first public session of training camp opens this Saturday, so by this time next week, we'll have some interesting nuggets on the beginning of camp. In this week's edition of "The Sunday Five" we continue reviewing the results from our training camp preview polls, covering the tight end, wide receiver, linebacker, and special teams positions.
Last week, the first preview covered the tight ends, where I asked the following question: "If one of these players were to have a huge role in the offense this year, who should it be?" 65% of voters went with Jordan Cameron, while the other 35% went with Evan Moore. While the thought of Cameron morphing into a special tight end is great, I don't think it's realistic. I think both tight ends should see their roles increase, but that will only happen if Alex Smith doesn't make the team. Cameron might have to wait one more year before he plays a bigger role in the offense than Moore, and that will be when Benjamin Watson is no longer with the team.
In part one of our wide receiver preview, I asked the following question: "When will WR Josh Gordon become a full-time starter alongside Greg Little?" Because there were so many choices, I'll list them by the leading vote-getters:
(39%) - By the fourth game (first quarter point)
(24%) - By the eighth game (half-way point)
(20%) - Right away to begin the season
(6%) - By the twelfth game (three-quarters point)
(7%) - Not this season at all; maybe in 2013
83% of fans believe he will take Mohamed Massaquoi's starting role away from him prior to or at the half-way point of the season, which is much higher amount than I expected. I fell into that category too, but I was on the outskirts (by the eighth game of the season). I don't think Gordon will take over because the team is struggling, but rather because he'll gradually improve week-by-week. I also don't think Massaquoi will be a true No. 2 starter -- that is, I think we'll see a lot of two man sets that have Greg Little and either Massaquoi, Gordon, or Joshua Cribbs.
In part two of our wide receiver preview, I asked the following question: "How will things turn out for wide receivers Carlton Mitchell and Josh Cooper this year?" 70% of fans believe Carlton Mitchell will be waived. 51% of fans believe Josh Cooper will make the final roster. 11% of fans somehow believe that both Mitchell and Cooper will make the final roster. In order for that to happen, the team would have to waive Jordan Norwood and a guy like Cribbs or Massaquoi. I'd place a pretty large wager on that not happening.
In part one of our linebacker preview, I asked the following question: "Who will be the Cleveland Browns starting strongside linebacker when Scott Fujita is eligible to return after Week 3?" 46% of the voters said that rookie James-Michael Johnson would be the starter. 28% of fans felt that Scott Fujita would retain his starting role. The voting was rounded out by 22% of fans supporting Kaluka Maiava, and 3% of the votes going to Emmanuel Acho (to which I ask, how many accounts did realmccoy make?). I was pretty surprised by the results of this poll, as I anticipated either Fujita or Maiava being the top vote-getters. My vote went to Fujita, because I think he will get the nod when he returns. I'd rather see Maiava or Johnson.
In part two of our linebacker preview, I asked the following question: "Which player from this preview would you like to see make the 53-man roster (even if it is just for the first three games)?" I take a little bit of credit for making fans aware of L.J. Fort, and the fact that he had a dominating 74% of the votes. He was followed by Quinton Spears (13%), Brian Smith (5%), Benjamin Jacobs (3%), JoJo Dickson (2%), and Craig Robertson (0%). It's hard to believe that after 241 votes, not a single person picked Robertson -- usually you always have a few outliers.
Lastly, in our special teams preview, I asked the following question: "Assuming he is healthy, should Joshua Cribbs remain as the punt and kick returner the entire season?" 60% of fans want Cribbs to return kicks and punts all season. 21% of fans thought someone else should take over on punt returns only, 13% thought someone else should take over on kickoffs only, and 4% thought Cribbs should be exclusively a receiver and do nothing in the return game. I was in the crowd who want Cribbs to remain on kickoff and punt return duty. If one of those two roles were reduced, I would keep Cribbs as a punt returner. I am comfortable in his experience fielding punts, and he may still get some opportunities there. On kickoffs, I think it might be more beneficial to allow a faster guy like Travis Benjamin to use his speed to outrace the coverage team out of the end zone.
Side note: this week, we'll conclude our training camp previews by talking about the team's secondary. Then, we'll have our first 53-man roster projection and a few other features prior to Saturday.