While we have been gearing up for training camp the whole month of July, the local media is starting to get their previews out as well. Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer talked about the Browns' special teams unit, and how the coaches will use the media's "1-15" type of rankings for the Browns as bulletin board material at some point.
The Browns also believe the coverage will be better because Joshua Cribbs will be on nearly every special team, offense (as a returner) and defense. He is superb on coverage. They also think some of the young linebackers and defensive backs will help, players such as Buster Skrine, Kaluka Maiava, Owen Marecic (a college linebacker), James Michael Johnson, Emmanuel Acho, Brad Smelley, Eric Hagg and Trevin Wade.
Excluding Cribbs, everyone listed on the coverage units are young. Maiava has the most experience. Gone are the days of Blake Costanzo and Nick Sorensen being the special teams leaders. Is there still room for a veteran like Ray Ventrone on the list? And what about Quinton Spears, who was near the team-lead in special teams tackles a year ago?
Here is what Pluto said about the media's low expectations:
At some point, Browns coaches will talk to the players about the team being picked as the worst in football, how they are only going to win one or two games. They are going to stress the "they don't respect us" theme. And they also plan to say that respect is earned, and they plan to go out and do that . . . one game at a time.
Pete Prisco tried to defend the Browns' 1-15 record prediction on The Really Big Show, but his defense was poor with very little analytical thought involved.
Over at the News Herald, Jeff Schudel had ten training camp projects for head coach Pat Shurmur, which basically talks about getting several key rookies prepared and figuring out who will start at safety and defensive tackle. The point I found most interesting involved cornerback Buster Skrine. Perhaps it was because cornerback is the only position I have not covered in my own training camp previews:
4. Find out if Buster Skrine is ready for more work at cornerback.
Sheldon Brown is the starting right cornerback until somebody beats him out. Skrine could be that player. Brown is entering his 11th season. He has never missed a game during eight years with the Eagles and two with the Browns. He is not fast, but he's crafty. This year, the Browns face some of the best quarterbacks in the league, including Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, Michael Vick, Philip Rivers and Tony Romo, plus Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton twice each.
The Browns are deep at cornerback with Skrine and Dimitri Patterson behind Brown and Joe Haden. Training camp will be about finding the best way to use all four players.