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5 position battles to watch at Browns training camp

Quarterback, right tackle, slot receiver, safety, and kicker — who are the candidates to start at each spot for Cleveland?

NFL: Cleveland Browns-Minicamp Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns training camp gets underway later this afternoon. If you’re just tuning back in to football now and want to get caught up on our position previews (which covered all 90 players in camp), you can find them here. For a good reader’s digest, though, let’s take a look at the top five position battles to watch in camp this year, in no particular order.

1. Quarterback: Second-year quarterback Cody Kessler will begin camp as the No. 1 quarterback, but that position is far from set in stone. Early in camp, we’ll see Brock Osweiler and DeShone Kizer get some opportunities at the top spot too, but we can’t read too much into the rep counts. Instead, we need to see who looks like the best fit for the offense. As far as the timeline for naming a starter goes, that is up-in-the-air:

2. Right Tackle: Four offensive line spots from left tackle to right guard are set in stone, leaving the right tackle spot up for competition. Last year’s starter, Austin Pasztor, was not retained, and its expected to be a two-man competition between Shon Coleman and Cameron Erving. Coleman would appear to be the early favorite as this was a role he was groomed for, while Erving has had to deal with a lot of different positions since being drafted.

3. Slot Receiver: We know that Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman are the Browns’ top two receivers, and David Njoku and Seth DeValve are the top two tight ends. Who the Browns will use as a slot receiver is a big question, though, and strangely enough, the competition might come down to three players at three different positions: Duke Johnson (running back), Ricardo Louis (wide receiver), and DeValve (tight end). We could also see whether the team tries to use Coleman as a slot receiver, with someone else filling in on the outside.

4. Safety: It’s hard to pinpoint who is competing with who at the safety position. Jabrill Peppers will have a role on defense, where he could be a linebacker/safety/cornerback. It’s hard to say he’s really competing with anyone in particular, because his role will be so unique. Therefore, I think you almost have to look at the competition as, “Assuming Peppers wasn’t in the mix, who would be the free safety and strong safety if the team had a traditional defensive package?” Ed Reynolds and Derrick Kindred might get the early crack at free and strong safety, respectively, but the feeling is that both men will be challenged by undrafted rookie Kai Nacua and veteran Calvin Pryor early on.

5. Kicker: The Browns extended their punter and long snapper this offseason, but not kicker Cody Parkey. After a rough debut, he did well the rest of the season. I think the team has confidence in him as a good kicker, but they also spent a 7th round draft pick on Zane Gonzalez. Parkey and Gonzalez will go head-to-head all camp, and that’s a position where it is typically easy to eventually tell who the victor should be: who makes the highest percentage of kicks? And, if its a close competition, who has the better leg?

Which of these five competitions are you most looking forward to? And, are there some other competitions further down the depth chart that you’ll also be watching?