Even though the season is still early, there are a lot of players on the Cleveland Browns who are under pressure to form in Week 2 for job security reasons, either in the short term or in the long term. I polled our staff members and asked them to sound off on a player they felt would be under pressure to perform this week against the Saints, or in the near future:
Josh Finney: "Travis Benjamin. Benjamin provided less than nothing in the return game, taking the ball out on balls he should have taken a knee on, and fair catching balls that he appeared to have space to do something with. Has little physicality downfield and is replaceable in the return game with Taylor Gabriel and Marlon Moore ready for action. Travis Benjamin HAS to be able to affect the game on special teams, because with a healthy Josh Gordon, he's the 4th/5th receiver on the team that doesn't have a clearly defined skill set except, 'fast.'"
notthatnoise: "Justin Gilbert. It's still early in his career, but some other rookie corners are already playing decent football. Gilbert needs to at least flash the ability that made him a top ten pick, or he could find himself slipping down the depth chart."
Zach Miller: "Paul Kruger. Browns paid him the big bucks to come in and be a force rushing the passer. By all accounts last year he was totally meh. Sunday against the Steelers, he looked like the guy we all hoped he'd be when we signed him. Pressure's on now to keep it up."
rufio: "Brian Hoyer. He's playing the most important position in all of sports, and he's got a first rounder (who happens to have lead the league in jersey sales) behind him on the depth chart. He might be the obvious choice, but any quarterback is always facing pressure to perform."
Matt Wood: "I know he is hurt, but what about Ben Tate when he comes back? He didn't get the big FA money that many expected, and he gets hurt his first game. Add on to that, the two guys behind him come on and rip it up. Wally Pipp? Tate has to be back in a big way when he gets healthy."
Mike Krupka: "Brian Hoyer. He needs to get better at stepping up in the pocket and taking that extra half second to get around to all his reads. He left a few passes on the field vs the Steelers that could have resulted in big plays, namely a missed pass to Ben Tate in the flat that could have gone for a TD in the first half (he was wide open with no DB help on his entire half of the field). QB is the most important position on the football field and with Manziel waiting in the wings, Hoyer needs to make plays to keep our offense moving and keep the tempo of the game within our control. It's our home opener, and solid play from Hoyer will go a long way to ensuring we win for a change."
Tim Miller: "Craig Robertson. He's competing with rookie Chris Kirksey for snaps at inside linebacker. Kirksey went on to record a sack, a tackle for a loss, a quarterback hit, and tight touchdown-saving coverage in the endzone on running back LeGarrette Blount. Kirksey looked like an every down player and got 83% of the reps split between him and Robertson. Craig is under tremendous pressure to perform if he wants to take a bigger share of playing time from the promising rookie."
Joe Ginley: "Terrance West. He did well in week one, recording over 100 yards in the season opener, becoming the first rookie back this season to hit the milestone mark. But now with Tate out for a significant period of time, West becomes the feature back. Can he handle the pressure of being the #1 back, or will he falter and allow Isaiah Crowell to steal carries? West has the opportunity to seize the feature back job, now he has to seize it and play well on Sunday against the Saints."
Chris Pokorny: "Taylor Gabriel. I was a fan of his in the preseason, but he couldn't haul in two catchable passes in Week 1 against the Saints. With Marlon Moore being on the active roster now as a sixth receiver, if Gabriel doesn't step up his game, the team could always consider swapping him with Charles Johnson."
And last, but not least...
mooncamping: "Jordan Poyer and Buster Skrine had a Bee Line for the Punt Returner Job (Jordan Poyer did a good job with that, last year, while presenting some nice calculable value as a Philadelphia Eagles 7th Rounder at CB, with no real detractors on the Oregon State Beaver Standout CB and Leader of their Return Units for Double Duty). And Buster Skrine, the Intrepid Improvisational Student of the CB Position, who as a 5th Round Endorsement in 2011 earned the Starting Slot to end the year. And held it down for two more Seasons, presenting a Nice Compliment to our Star CB Joe Haden on one side of the field. With QB`s choosing to throw away from him, or challenge the wiry, tough Little Critter, who prefers to tackle not intercept. Allowing Joe Show to explore his Obvious Playground Talents and Innate Ball Hawking Skills. Presenting him with a more versatile Skill Set to not feel neccessarily compelled to Intercept Balls, like he routinely did at the University Of Florida, to undermine his Standing as an Eventual Pro Bowler. Commanding a Nice Salary Extension this Offseason in comparison to other NFL Top Tier Defensive Backs. If you remember, in the 2013 Training Camp, Buster Skrine was listed as the Second Fastest Player on our Team, second to only Travis Benjamin. You know it´s always a Topic of Contention, whether you have a Defensive Back or a Wide Receiver fielding your Kicks. Buster Skrine didn´t whine when we took Justin Gilbert 8th Overall this year, despite a Satisfactory from the 2 Year Stalwart at the Position. He complied with the Challenge to compete for Kick Returner gladly, appearing in that Depth Chart. He presented a decent challenge to the Oklahoma State Master Intercepter and Special Teams Ace in Training Camp, helping him "earn" the Right to Start as a Rookie. Settling for a Chance at Nickleback in the end. Do you realize his value on the Free Market as a Legitimate Browns Product, a Two Year Veteran maintaining opposite possibly thee Top CB in the League? That´s Loyalty. With Jordan Poyer at Punt Returner and Buster Skrine doubling as a Nickel and a Kick Returner. We are set! Both have proven they are good enough to at least hold down each Backup CB Depth Chart Slot. Keeping our Starters smart, while presenting some Desirable Commodities to other NFL Franchises. Neither is a Complainer, I´ll wager a bet. With so much Versatility and Availability to Different Specialty Sectors of our Game Day Needs. Do they have Twitters, that they handle well? Yes, they are Pressure Compatible."