BEREA, Ohio – The Cleveland Browns open 2022 NFL training camp on Tuesday in Berea, Ohio. Here's a closer look at the storylines:
The biggest question: How will the Browns split up quarterback reps? The team is waiting for disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson to rule on whether Deshaun Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy, and if he will be suspended. Watson, whom the Browns acquired in an offseason trade with the Houston Texans, has been accused by more than two dozen women of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault during massage sessions. There are four remaining active civil lawsuits after 20 were settled and one dropped. Attorney Tony Buzbee said the plan remains to go to trial on the four active cases in the spring. Two grand juries in Texas declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year. Watson has denied all of the allegations.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski will have to balance acclimating Watson into the Browns offense after he sat out all of last season in Houston, while also preparing backup Jacoby Brissett to potentially be the starter. Cleveland also just signed 2018 first-rounder Josh Rosen, who will be battling Josh Dobbs for the No. 3 QB job. All four quarterbacks are new to the team -- making the training camp reps all the more precious.
The most compelling position battle: The Browns’ defensive tackle rotation heading into camp is almost entirely comprised of unproven players. Sheldon Day, 28, has the most experience among the defensive tackles, but is no lock to even make the team after being a part-time player last year. Free agent signee Taven Bryan, 26, has the second-most experience, though he didn’t even start a game last year in Jacksonville. Alongside their veterans, the Browns are banking that recent draft picks Jordan Elliott and Tommy Togiai can step up in their third and second seasons, respectively. But perhaps the most intriguing player of the group is rookie Perrion Winfrey, Cleveland’s fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma. Winfrey has the talent to become a disruptive difference-maker in time. But if he, and the others, aren’t ready to contribute as starters coming out of training camp, look for the Browns to add a veteran to help solidify the group.
Fiercest fantasy-relevant battle: The Browns have a no-doubt No. 1 running back in All-Pro Nick Chubb. The Browns also have a clear No. 1 wide receiver in Amari Cooper, whom they landed in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys this offseason. Buttressed by a dominant line, Cleveland is primed to score points. But it’s unclear heading into camp who the most valuable fantasy option will be after the quarterback, Chubb and Cooper. One decent bet to emerge is tight end David Njoku, who received a massive four-year, $57 million extension this offseason. Njoku has been inconsistent through five years in the league, but has the talent to produce like a top 10 fantasy tight end. Versatile running back Kareem Hunt, wideouts Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz and rookie slot receiver David Bell (who will open training camp on the PUP list with a foot injury) are among those who will also be pushing for touches.
Camp prediction: The Browns will trade running back D'Ernest Johnson during training camp. Yes, Johnson is coming off a breakout season filling in for Chubb and Hunt and signed a one-year extension with the Browns during the offseason. But Cleveland drafted another running back in Jerome Ford, a fifth-round selection out of Cincinnati, who flashed a versatile skill set during OTAs and minicamp. With second-year playmaker Demetric Felton also returning, the Browns will move Johnson to a more running back-needy team.