Editor’s Note: The video above is on the Deshaun Watson investigation.
CLEVELAND (WJW) – The NFL’s mantra is “next man up.” The Cleveland Browns are one of the only teams in the league where that platitude applies to the quarterback position before the season begins.
While there are still questions surrounding the Browns, there are some things we do know about this football season.
There will be 53 players on the active roster each week during the 2022 regular season, and the Browns will need all 53 of them to make a big play – or two – over the course of 17 games.
Deshaun Watson will not be the starting quarterback for some portion of the season. While league disciplinary officer, retired federal Judge Sue L. Robinson’s initial decision brought answers, those answers only lasted about 3 days before we learned the NFL was appealing for a longer suspension.
We know that Watson will miss a minimum of 6 games this season.
The Browns’ depth chart for Friday’s first preseason game at Jacksonville has Watson as QB1, with Jacoby Brissett in the backup role. Joshua Dobbs is expected to lead the third-team offense, with Josh Rosen taking any remaining reps.
Will it be an opportunity for the Browns to lean on the ground game with stars Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt?
The Run Game
Running back Nick Chubb is one of the highlights in any dismal Browns season and one of the most coveted players on every fantasy football team.
Former Browns running back Greg Pruitt has long said the team doesn’t rely on Chubb and the run game enough, a point he emphasized repeatedly last year during Baker Mayfield’s injury.
“This guy finds a way to get 100 yards,” Pruitt said after Chubb’s performance against the L.A. Chargers.
“I’m just glad he plays for us.”
Video of Nick Chubb weightlifting 675 lbs. surfaced in the spring. Chubb said that was part of his mental preparation for the season.
Chubb threw his support behind his powerhouse counterpart, Kareem Hunt, this week.
“I couldn’t imagine playing without him,” Chubb said of Hunt in an interview. “Whatever they gotta do to keep him here. I want to play with Kareem.”
Hunt began participating in team drills again Sunday, after sitting out of drills for two straight practices. He had asked for a contract extension to increase his salary, then demanded a trade when that didn’t happen.
So far, the Browns have declined to trade Hunt, who’s in the final year of a 2-year $12 million contract.
Hunt missed 9 games last season due to injuries. He finished the season with 386 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. Chubb ran for 1,259 yards. Undrafted free agent D’Ernest Johnson, who just signed a one-year deal with the Browns, racked up 534 yards on the ground.
York kicked a 45-yard field goal to close out Sunday’s practice and got carried off the field by his teammates.
Only a season under pressure will determine if he lives up to the hype, but reports from training camp look good.
Amari Cooper is the Browns’ new number one receiver.
Cooper is a 4-time Pro-Bowl receiver who has been ranked in the top 10 of the NFL since 2018.
The Browns need Cooper to make up for the production they lost with the departures of both Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
Cooper has bounced back after an ankle injury in training camp and is at the top of the receiving corps’ unofficial depth chart for the first preseason game with Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Dallas Cowboys fans will be missing the playmaker, frequently yelling, “Coop!” during games.
The Browns’ defense showed whispers of greatness last season but lacked consistency on the field. This year, however, their key performers are returning, and they already know the playbook. Last year the Browns’ defense broke in 9 rookies.
“You can never take for granted unity and familiarity with your teammates, with the system, with the playbook, whatever it is,” said linebacker Anthony Walker in an interview with NFL.com.
He’s in his second season in Cleveland and was one of the new starters last year.
“As much as you say you should be able to plug-and-play this guy from this system and put him in your system, it’s not the same. We had the guys who could do that, and we had flashes where we were really, really good, but we also had stretches where we were really, really bad.”
One thing that will always be consistent about the Browns is the fans.
They will fill the stadium in rain, snow and graupel. They will defend their team and complain about them and the play calls while wearing their team jerseys.
No matter who is on the field the season, Browns backers will cheer them on through scrappy and “ugly” wins.
One last thing…
“If the Browns don’t beat the Browns, nobody can beat the Browns.” – Greg Pruitt