By Tony Grossi
The Morning Kickoff …
What you see is what you get: With a few minor exceptions, NFL team rosters are set for training camp. The draft was the last major piece of roster-stuffing. Now is the time to revisit the Browns’ 2012 schedule.
Game 1, Sept. 9, home v. Philadelphia: The Eagles addedlinebacker DeMeco Ryans in free agency, and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and defensive end Vinny Curry in the draft to shore up their horrible run defense. Trent Richardson for 100?
Game 2, Sept. 16, at Cincinnati: The Bengals cobbled together two more first-round cornerbacks – Dre Kirkpatrick in the draft and Terence Newman in free agency. Offensively, BenJarvus Green-Ellis takes over for Cedric Benson at running back. The competition for A.J. Green’s complementary receiver is between rookies Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones.
Game 3, Sept. 23, home v. Buffalo: The defense added free agent end Mario Williams and first-round cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The offense is hoping Ryan FitzPatrick rediscovers his hot hand. Third-round rookie receiver T.J. Graham and second-round tackle Cordy Glenn are the notable additions on offense.
Game 4, Sept. 27, at Baltimore: For once, a team other than the Browns suffers an offseason misfortune to a key player. Sack machine Terrell Suggs is out with an Achilles tendon tear. This follows losing outside linebacker Jarret Johnson in free agency. Rookie Courtney Upshaw can’t fill both holes. Colt McCoy must be wondering, “How come this didn’t happen last year?”
Game 5, Oct. 7, at N.Y. Giants: Look who they stuck in the middle of their defensive line – Shaun Rogers. On offense, they got faster – replacing running back Brandon Jacobs with draft pick David Wilson and receiver Mario Manningham with draft pick Reuben Randle.
Game 6, Oct. 14, home v. Cincinnati: Who knows? Maybe the Bengals will swing a deal for yet another former first-round cornerback before the trade deadline.
Game 7, Oct. 21, at Indianapolis: They’re supposed to compete for the No. 1 draft position again. But shouldn’t the Andrew Luck-to-Coby Fleener connection scare Browns’ linebackers?
Game 8, Oct. 28, home v. San Diego: Here’s some hope. They signed Charlie Whitehurst as their backup quarterback. Other than that, lots of reinforcements on defense – rookies Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes and free agent Jarret Johnson.
Game 9, Nov. 4, home v. Baltimore: Suggs will still be out.
Game 10, Nov. 18, at Dallas: Brandon Weeden meets Morris Claiborne. What might have been if Oklahoma State had played Louisiana State for the BCS Championship (minus Justin Blackmon).
Game 11, Nov. 25, home v. Pittsburgh: With the addition of rookies David DeCastro and Mike Adams protecting him, maybe drama king Ben Roethlisberger can throw without a pronounced limp.
Game 12, Dec. 2, at Oakland: After trading their first two draft picks last season for Carson Palmer, they didn’t have a pick until 95th overall in the third round. They used it on Tony Bergstrom. Yes,the Tony Bergstrom, the guard from Utah. Rest in peace, Al Davis.
Game 13, Dec. 9, home v. Kansas City: Not that we wish ill will on Matt Cassel, but wouldn’t it be fitting if backup QB Brady Quinn had to play in Cleveland and hand off to Peyton Hillis, the player for which he was traded by the Browns? Behind the blocking of free agent tackle Eric Winston, and rookie guard Jeff Allen and tackle Donald Stephenson, Hillis and scatback Jamal Charles could be a twin 1,000-yard tandem.
Game 14, Dec. 16, home v. Washington: Robert Griffin III, Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan … now they sign Chase Minnifield, too? Understand this, Redskins. The Terminal Tower’s going nowhere.
Game 15, Dec. 23, at Denver: Will Peyton Manning still be healthy for this game, or will the Broncos’ starting QB be rookie Brock Osweiler, who truly is a Mile-High quarterback?
Game 16, Dec. 30, at Pittsburgh: The Browns have played their 16th game against the Steelers seven times since 1991. They have lost all seven, scoring 9, 9, 0, 7, 9, 13 and 10 points. “It’s different,” Mike Holmgren says.
Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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