Time for the annual game of “Let’s Predict the Browns Roster,” realizing of course that very few spots were even up for grabs when training camp started.
That seems an oddity for a team that has won 18 games the past four seasons, but it’s the way it is.
This is, at best, a guess based on observation, consultation and justification. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Start with the three specialists — Phil Dawson, Reggie Hodges and Christian Yount — and that leaves 50 spots. For our purposes, let’s put 25 on offense, 25 on defense, with the starter carrying the asterisk.
QB (3) — Brandon Weeden*, Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace.
If it goes this way, it will show Mike Holmgren’s influnce. Thad Lewis makes the team if the Browns can find someone to give them a draft pick for McCoy, or if Pat Shurmur’s argument carries the day. If Lewis stays, Wallace goes.
RB (4) — Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty*, Brandon Jackson, Chris Ogbonnaya
Richardson’s knee situation prompts the Browns to keep an extra back, and keeps him from starting on opening day.
FB (1) — Owen Marecic*
Brad Smelley heads to the practice squad.
OL (8)– Joe Thomas*, Jason Pinkston*, Alex Mack*, Shawn Lauvao*, Mitch Schwartz*, Ryan Miller, John Greco, Dominic Alford
Jeff Shugarts is another practice squadder.
TE (3) — Ben Watson*, Jordan Cameron, Alex Smith
This assumes Watson will be healthy and has been sitting out merely because he’s a veteran who knows the score. If Evan Moore could block, he’d beat out Alex Smith.
WR (6) — Mohamed Massaquoi*, Greg Little*, Josh Gordon, Travis Benjamin, Josh Cribbs, Jordan Norwood
Norwood has made several big catches in preseason, which puts Josh Cooper on the practice squad.
DL (9) — Jabaal Sheard*, Ahtyba Rubin*, Frostee Rucker*, Billy Winn*, John Hughes, Ronnie Cameron, Juqua Parker, Ernest Owusu, Scott Paxson.
Phil Taylor starts on PUP. In his absence, Owusu gets a chance. Paxson’s presence assumes he’s healthy; if not Brian Schaefering or Emmanuel Stephens makes it.
LB (7) — Scott Fujita*, D’Qwell Jackson*, James-Michael Johnson*, Kaluka Maiava, L.J. Fort, Craig Robertson, Quinton Spears
This assumes Fujita’s suspension is put on hold by the courts.
DB (9) — Sheldon Brown*, Joe Haden*, Eric Hagg*, T.J. Ward*, Buster Skrine, Dimitri Patterson, Trevin Wade, David Sims, James Dockery
Again assuming Haden is not suspended, though everyone seems to think he will be. If he is, Usama Young makes it. If Haden is not suspended, the Browns let go of an injury-plagued guy. Ray Ventrone is excellent on special teams, but the guess here is Sims wins the spot. Unless the Browns decide to keep Ventrone and put Sims on the practice squad.