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Browns training camp preview: Wide receivers

Jul 17, 2013 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

The Morning Kickoff …

Countdown to training camp: One in a series previewing the Browns’ roster leading up to the opening of training camp on July 25.

Position: Wide receivers.

Quick overview: Coach Rob Chudzinski and coordinator Norv Turner like their receivers tall and fast. They interchange two-, three- and four-receiver formations, depending on the quality of tight ends on the roster. We’re more likely to see more multiple-receiver formations given the configuration of this roster.

Projected keepers on final roster :Six.

Starters entering camp: 13 Josh Gordon (2013 salary cap number: $1.213 million) and 18 Greg Little (cap: $907,500).

Others in camp (alphabetically): 80 Travis Benjamin, 15 Davone Bess, 88 Josh Cooper, 89 Dominique Croom, 16 Keenan Davis, 86 Mike Edwards, 9 Tori Gurley, 11 David Nelson, 10 Jordan Norwood, 83 Cordell Roberson.

Key newcomers: Bess, acquired in a trade with Miami for an exchange of 2013 draft picks; Nelson, signed as free agent (1 year/$615,294).

Analysis: In his second year, Gordon can be a superstar in this offense if he can avoid drifting off the straight and narrow. His two-game suspension at the start of the season for testing positive for, he said, codeine, will either be a wake-up call or the beginning of the end for him. Gordon’s physical skills are elite and he is only 22 years old. The Browns need to surround him with a support group. Adding Bess, a respected veteran player, was a good start. It will be interesting to see if Bess takes Gordon under his wing or is indifferent with his new team. Bess also looms as an important asset for Brandon Weeden, who desperately needs a dependable third-down target. Bess is one of the best at that. Little had a noticeable turnaround in the second half of last season and could reach another level in this offense. Benjamin is the fastest player on offense, but his durability and ball security are ongoing concerns. Nelson, like Bess, could be a valuable addition. He has the size Turner likes in receivers, though he specialized with Buffalo in the slot, which figures to be the province of Bess. Cooper and Norwood have size and durability issues going against them.

Don’t be surprised if: One from the group of Davis, Gurley, Croom and Roberson makes the final roster. All are 6-2 or taller. Gurley, 25, is with his seventh NFL team, but the others are undrafted rookies.

Key questions: 1. Can Gordon regain the confidence and trust of the organization after earning a two-game suspension for flunking an offseason drug test? 2. Can Nelson recover from ACL surgery last September and regain the promising form he showed with Buffalo in 2011?

Fun fact: In 23 seasons as an NFL coach, Norv Turner has had 15 players achieve 1,000 yards receiving. In 14 seasons since 1999, the Browns have had four players with 1,000 yards receiving.

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 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@espncleveland.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

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