CLEVELAND BROWNS (7-9)
OPEN CAMP: July 30, Berea, Ohio
LAST YEAR: Yet another circus as Browns were in playoff contention before dropping last five games, ending coach Mike Pettine’s first season on sour note. There was improvement, but Browns were undermined by sideshows swirling around backup rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel and former Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was suspended for first 10 games and played poorly when he returned.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: QB Josh McCown; WRs Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline; DB Tramon Williams; P Andy Lee; WR Terrelle Pryor; DL Randy Starks.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: WRs Gordon and Miles Austin; QB Brian Hoyer; TE Jordan Cameron; LB Jabaal Sheard; CB Buster Skrine; DL Ahtyba Rubin; K Billy Cundiff; S Jim Leonhard.
CAMP NEEDS: Once again, quarterback remains unsolved mystery. McCown, now 36, showed skills in 2013 with Chicago, but went 1-10 last season in Tampa Bay. Manziel is trying to earn back team’s trust following highly publicized rehab stint during offseason. Gordon is banned for year, depriving club of its best big-play threat.
EXPECTATIONS: Browns were only AFC North team not to make postseason last year. Led by Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden, deep, talented defense has chance to be terrific. McCown will be protected by excellent offensive line, but he could feel pressure if Manziel, who looked lost in two starts last season, gets his act together. Owner Jimmy Haslam’s patience will be tested if team starts slowly.
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