The quirks of the Cleveland Browns' preseason schedule has led to 11 days between the first and second games followed by three games within 12 days.
That leaves Hue Jackson with some key team-building decisions with just two days of practice before the third game, which is the most important. Then there are two more days before the final game, which has taken on added importance because all roster decisions will be made after that game.
The obvious decision left for Jackson is the starting quarterback for the season opener, but there are a few spots where he admitted he needs to find answers:
Quarterback: The path seems clear for Brock Osweiler to start the season opener. When a veteran like Joe Thomas says that path is evident, well, it's worth a listen. Osweiler hasn't exactly won the position with glittering play. He's been competent, and his experience has helped. But Cody Kessler did not take advantage of his opportunity, and the Browns simply believe that DeShone Kizer is not ready. The Browns are determined not to force Kizer on the field before he is ready.
"This is the National Football League; it is the best of the best," Jackson said. "These quarterbacks only have so many hits in their bodies. If you put those guys out there and they start getting sacked and hit early in the year and are not sure how to do things correctly, then I don't think that helps them.
"I would never do that to a quarterback."
Osweiler will be watched closely on Monday night against the New York Giants, because if he falls flat there could be an opening for Kizer. But he will be watched just as closely because he will be going against guys who will probably be on rosters Monday, as opposed to the third- and fourth-teamers he saw against the New Orleans Saints.
"Obviously," Jackson said, "the quarterback position is the biggest piece of all."
Receiver: Jackson called it an obvious question mark, saying: "We have to step up there."
Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt would have to be injured to lose their starting jobs, and Coleman has had good practices recently. Of the rest, the only player to really make himself noticed consistently has been Ricardo Louis. The rest of the group that includes Josh Boyce, Rashard Higgins, Jordan Payton and Rannell Hall have had their moments. Any or all could make the team.
"Who is going to catch the balls and get those balls?" Jackson said. "I think those questions will be answered within the next three weeks."
The concern remains unchanged from the start of training camp: In a passing era, the Browns have question marks at quarterback and receiver.
Tight end: Jackson described the group as very young, and that has been true since the day the team released Gary Barnidge one day after drafting David Njoku. Barnidge would seem to have fit on this roster given his experience, except that his good catching/not-so-great blocking skills mirror those of Seth DeValve and Njoku.
Randall Telfer is the starting tight end right now for one reason. To paraphrase Jackson from earlier in camp, one of the tight ends has to be able to block, especially since the Browns want to run the ball. Njoku started slow but has improved recently and looked more comfortable. DeValve started fast, but it's hard to see him being any kind of downfield threat against true competition in the regular season the way he is in some practice situations.
The secondary: The starters at corner are set with Jamar Taylor and Joe Haden. Jason McCourty and Briean Boddy-Calhoun seem to have earned third and fourth spots, in either order. But the safety situation still has to sort itself out. Derrick Kindred seems set at one safety spot, and the Browns would love to have Jabrill Peppers start the other. With Ibraheim Campbell out with a concussion, the team still lists former practice squad player Justin Currie (Western Michigan) as the starter.
Currie has been a pleasant surprise in camp, but the Browns would love to see Peppers on the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Place kicker: It's been a bit under the radar, but the Browns have a decision to make between Cody Parkey and rookie Zane Gonzalez. Lost in the morass of 1-15 was the reality that Parkey kicked well for the Browns in 2016 -- after his first game. He was rushed into that game in Miami and missed three kicks, including a potential game winner, but made 17 of 19 the rest of the season.
The Browns then drafted Gonzalez in the seventh round. Gonzalez is an analytics guy's dream -- ESPN's Bill Barnwell made Gonzalez his kicker on the perfect NFL roster. He holds the FBS record with 96 field goals and 494 points. Gonzalez also set a record for attempts.
It seemed originally like Gonzalez was a lock because a team would not draft a kicker without keeping him. But the competition between Parkey and Gonzalez has been close.