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After more than 40 veteran player transactions, Browns' roster depth and competitiveness have been improved

Jun 09, 2014 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

Updated at 7:58 a.m.

The Morning Kickoff …

Roster reset: Not counting the draft and undrafted signees, the new Browns’ football operations regime of GM Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine has made roughly 40 player transactions since jointly taking over on Feb. 11.

The most activity has been at wide receiver, defensive secondary, running back and quarterback. The least has been at defensive line. The kickers have not been changed.

As Pettine winds up the pre-training camp season with his mandatory minicamp Tuesday through Thursday, it’s time to review the Browns’ roster by position groups. Players who were signed and then released (e.g. Vince Young) are not included.

Quarterback

Subtracted: Jason Campbell, Alex Tanney, Brandon Weeden.

Added: Johnny Manziel (r), Connor Shaw (r), Tyler Thigpen.

Kept: Brian Hoyer.

Comment: Two battles unfolding: Hoyer v. Manziel for No. 1 and Thigpen v. Shaw for No. 3.

Running back

Subtracted: Jamain Cook, Willis McGahee, Fozzy Whittaker.

Added: Ray Agnew (r), Jourdan Brooks, Isaiah Crowell (r), Ben Tate, Terrance West (r).

Kept: Edwin Baker, Dion Lewis, Chris Ogbonnaya.

Comment: One of the most upgraded positions. Tate and West are clearly No. 1 and No. 2. After that, the fates of Baker, Lewis and Ogbonnaya are to be determined. The fullback position remains a rumor.

Wide receiver

Subtracted: Davone Bess, Josh Cooper, Tori Gurley, Greg Little, Brian Tyms.

Added: Anthony Armstrong, Miles Austin, Earl Bennett, Nate Burleson, Taylor Gabriel (r), Andrew Hawkins, Jonathan Krause (r), Chandler Jones (r), Kenny Shaw (r), Willie Snead (r).

Kept: Travis Benjamin,Josh Gordon, Charles Johnson, Conner Vernon.

Comment: Gordon’s imminent suspension is the dark cloud over this position and the entire offense. Austin, Burleson, Benjamin and Johnson have not participated in team drills in OTAs because of injury precautions. Hawkins has been All-OTAs.

Tight end

Subtracted: Keavon Milton (switched to OL), Andre Smith.

Added: Jim Dray, James Oboh (r).

Kept: Gary Barnidge, Jordan Cameron, MarQueis Gray.

Comment: Cameron may reach a higher level in this offense. Dray and Barnidge should see lots of time in multiple tight end formations. Gray is being experimented at fullback for now.

Offensive line

Subtracted: Oniel Cousins, Shawn Lauvao.

Added: Joel Bitonio (r), Paul McQuistan.

Kept: Chris Faulk, Reid Fragel, Garrett Gilkey, John Greco, Randall Harris (r), Alex Mack, Keavon Milton (switched from TE), Jason Pinkston, Mitchell Schwartz, Joe Thomas, Martin Wallace, Jeremiah Warren.

Comment: Bitonio, a starting candidate at either guard spot, suffered what is believed to be a high ankle sprain at OTAs last week and will be shut down until training camp. The biggest battle is at right tackle between Schwartz, Faulk and McQuistan.

Defensive line

Subtracted: Brian Sanford.

Added: Calvin Barnett (r), Jaccobi McDaniel (r).

Kept: Armonty Bryant, Desmond Bryant, Cam Henderson, John Hughes, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor, Billy Winn.

Comment: The coaches are pleased they inherited a deep rotation here.

Linebacker

Subtracted: Quentin Groves, Paul Hazel, D’Qwell Jackson.

Added: Zac Diles, Karlos Dansby, Chris Kirksey (r).

Kept: Tank Carder, Darius Eubanks, Paul Kruger, Brandon Magee, Eric Martin, Barkevious Mingo, Jabaal Sheard, Justin Staples.

Comment: Pettine has singled out Sheard as a player of impact, which means Mingo embarks on his second season as a situational player. Robertson will receive a serious challenge from Kirksey for the inside starting spot next to Dansby, with Eubanks a darkhorse.

Cornerback

Subtracted: Julian Posey.

Added: Aaron Berry, Justin Gilbert (r), Pierre Desir (r), Isaiah Trufant, K’Waun Williams (r).

Kept: Royce Adams, Joe Haden, T.J. Heath, Leon McFadden, Buster Skrine.

Comment: Gilbert’s arrival will keep Skrine in the slot. Berry, Trufant and Desir give the coaches nice depth.

Safety

Subtracted: T.J. Ward.

Added: Darwin Cook (r), Robert Nelson (r), Donte Whitner.

Kept: Josh Aubrey, Johnson Bademosi, Tashaun Gipson, Jordan Poyer, Jamoris Slaughter.

Comment: Whitner and Gipson appear unchallenged as starters.

Specialists

Subracted: Brandon Bogotay.

Kept: Billy Cundiff, Spencer Lanning, Christian Yount.

Comment: Benjamin is expected to resume punt return duties when back from ACL surgery. The kickoff returner will come from camp auditions, but Pettine prefers that Gilbert (six career TDs at Oklahoma State), concentrate on cornerback for the time being.

 

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. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

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