Today's special teams preview for training camp will be a little bit different than the other ones we've been running. We already covered kicker and punter, but we still have long snapper, the return game, and coverage units left to cover. Those areas are covered in today's general special teams preview, but the only position that will have a profile is long snapper -- the other areas will just have general notes listed.
1. CHARLEY HUGHLETT - LONG SNAPPER
When long snappers aren't responsible for a series of blown snaps, they don't face any competition in training camp. That is the right that Charley Hughlett earned after a successful 2015 season. The margin of error that NFL long snappers face is still very small.
We've seen our last two long-snappers, Ryan Pontbriand and Christian Yount, have some good seasons, only to fall into a rough patch and then be replaced for good. When one team writes off a long-snapper, it's not often that another NFL teams comes calling -- you might as well kiss your career goodbye.
Final Roster Odds: 100%
KICK / PUNT RETURNER
Punt Returner: For the first time in awhile, the Browns' punt return job is up-for-grabs. The team has had three pretty solid punt returners carry the torch back-to-back-to-back, including Dennis Northcutt, Joshua Cribbs, and Travis Benjamin.
With Benjamin having departed to San Diego, the leading candidate to replace him is rookie WR Corey Coleman. We know that as a receiver, he excels in short-area quickness and making defenders miss, and those are the same skills that could make him dangerous as a return man.
Other players who could see action as the punt returner are RB Raheem Mostert, RB Duke Johnson, S Jordan Poyer, and CB Tramon Williams.
Kick Returner: Last year, CB Justin Gilbert, RB Raheem Mostert, WR Darius Jennings, RB Shaun Draughn, WR Marlon Moore, and RB Duke Johnson each returned kickoffs for the Browns. All of those players are still with the team except for Draughn, so there is no shortage of players who special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has to work with.
Mostert and Gilbert might be the early favorites for the job, with Mostert being at a disadvantage because he might not do enough to make the team as a running back. With kickoff rules now allowing touchbacks to come out to the 25 yard line instead of the 20 yard line, there is less incentive for special teams coaches to tell players to return kicks out of the end zone. However, coaches might opt to have their kickers kick it high and short of the end zone, in which case you would want a good return specialist.
Tabor has also said that WR Corey Coleman could see some work on kick returns.
The top three players in special teams tackles for the Browns last year were CB Johnson Bademosi (17), ILB Tank Carder (10), and ILB Chris Kirksey (10). ILB Craig Robertson had 9 tackles, and then several players each had 6 special teams tackles, including CB Justin Gilbert, S Ibraheim Campbell, and S Jordan Poyer.
Johnson and Robertson have both departed, which leaves room for some of the team's 14 rookies to carve out a niche, particularly linebackers Joe Schobert and Scooby Wright. WR Marlon Moore only had 1 special teams tackle all of last season, but was a great gunner in 2014, so he could very well be in position to take over Bademosi's role.
Today's poll asks who you think the team's punt returner should be.