In his weekly Sunday column, the Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto talked about a couple of players who he was impressed with after Cleveland Browns minicamp this past week. These are players who are either new or will be competing for a roster spot (in other words, he's not going to say a given, such as "Joe Thomas was impressive").
The players Pluto liked included:
-LB James-Michael Johnson: For the first three games, it's expected that Kaluka Maiava will start at outside linebacker. Johnson will be the primary backup at each of the linebacker positions as it stands right now. Pluto says: "Johnson (called "JMJ" by coaches and teammates) has looked good at middle linebacker and on the outside." Pluto also states that Johnson should be one of the new contributors on special teams.
-WR Josh Cooper: The early winner for that No. 6 wide receiver spot I wrote about in The Sunday Five? Pluto thinks it is Cooper:
It's early, but I hear undrafted rookie receiver Josh Cooper has been more impressive than Carlton Mitchell, who has spent most of the past two years on the inactive list. The Browns like Cooper's hands. He caught 139 passes from Weeden the past two years at Oklahoma State.
-TE/FB Brad Smelley: Here is the real question: is he a threat toward Owen Marecic...or Alex Smith? From Pluto:
Seventh-rounder Brad Smelley of Alabama has looked good on special teams, and as a tight end/fullback. A player in his spot needs to show he can play a few positions and be important to special teams.
Pluto noted that all three players were doing well at special teams. Remember that the Browns' coverage units struggled a bit last year under Chris Tabor. That's a big area where some of these depth guys can really prove their worth to show why they should make the roster and be active on gameday.
Lastly, Pluto notes that rather than seek a trade, Colt McCoy should be content as a backup, considering the number of better potential starters who are backups on other teams:
There are better and more successful quarterbacks than McCoy (6-14 as a starter) who were starting a year ago and now are backups: Jason Campbell (Chicago), Rex Grossman (Washington), Kyle Orton (Dallas) and Vince Young (Buffalo).
He's got a point.