Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 6/17/13
New Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton will have some competitions for starting spots to decide during training camp. (Tony Dejak/AP Photo) Enjoy watching half-speed football practices in the heat? Well, luckily for you, Browns training camp is fast approaching. There’s now less than 1,000 hours until you can get your exhibition football fix. The Browns announced their training camp schedule last week. Camp, which runs from July 25 to August 13, will feature 14 practices open to the public at the team’s Berea facility, as well as the annual Family Night at FirstEnergy Stadium on the evening of August 3. As always, admission to all sessions is free. In a savvy move, the open practices this year will be in the afternoon, from 4 to 6:30 PM. Last year, morning practices were open to fans, while the afternoon walkthroughs were closed. Attendance at Browns camp was certainly not an issue last season, but one has to think that practices will be even more crowded with the new schedule. As someone who interned with the team during last year’s camp, I just wish they had made the switch earlier. Starting work at 6:45 AM was never ideal for a college kid home for the summer. What will all of those fans actually be watching though? While it is surely important, not many would label training camp entertaining. It won’t be completely boring though. The Browns, like just about every other NFL team, have important issues to resolve before the regular season begins. Fans will get the opportunity to watch a number of these questions be answered at camp. Today, we’ll examine some of the battles on the defensive side of the ball. Later this week, we’ll turn our focus to questions about the offense and broader issues of the organization as a whole. Cornerback Joe Haden has established himself as a Pro Bowl level performer at one corner, in spite of the fact that his Adderall suspension rendered him ineligible for postseason honors last season. A year ago, the aged Sheldon Brown held down the other starting spot with young speedster Buster Skrine seeing work in nickel packages. With Brown gone from the roster, someone will need to step up and claim the title of starter. The contenders include Skrine, this year’s third round draft pick Leon McFadden, and Chris Owens, signed as a free agent this offseason after four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. Trevin Wade is also still on the roster, but hasn’t been talked about much as a part of the competition. Is Chris Owens, signed as a free agent this offseason,the answer at cornerback opposite Joe Haden? (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) My money at this point would be on Owens. While Skrine, McFadden and Owens all lack size (they are each listed at 5’9”), Owens experience in Atlanta give him the early edge. While fans will obviously hope that McFadden will be ready to contribute in his rookie season, it’s probably more likely that he’ll see most of his work with the special teams unit. In this scenario, Skrine would reprise his role as the nickelback, covering opponents’ slot receivers on passing downs. Free Safety Who will the Browns pair with T.J Ward? Ward flies somewhat under the radar among casual fans, but his talent and value have been noticed by outlets like Pro Football Focus, which ranked him number 97 in their Top 101 of 2012 list. The platoon of ineptitude the Browns lined up next to him last season was unacceptable. Usama Young and Eric Hagg should not be NFL starters, as evidenced by the fact that Hagg has not been picked up by any team this offseason and Young is now employed by the abyss that is the Oakland Raiders. This season, the competitors are largely unproven. Tashaun Gipson is in his second season after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Wyoming in 2012. He played sparingly last season, but all reports out of Berea indicate that he has the inside track on the starting job. Johnson Bademosi, another 2012 undrafted free agent from Stanford, lined up at cornerback last season, even getting a start and performing well against the Cowboys. He was also considered by many to be the Browns best special teamer last year (Well, outside of Phil Dawson. I miss you Uncle Phil). This coaching staff has transitioned him from corner to safety, where he should battle with Gipson for time. Sixth-round pick Jamoris Slaughter from Notre Dame may also be in the competition when he returns from the torn Achilles tendon that kept him out for much of the 2012 season in South Bend. The new coaching staff has converted Johnson Bademosi from corner to safety. (G.J. McCarthy/Dallas Morning News) Gipson is probably the front-runner right now, but expect Bademosi to have a strong showing in camp and make this a legitimate competition. The coaching staff has not been coy about their love of Bademosi’s talent and potential, so even if Gipson begins the season as the starter, don’t be surprised if Bademosi earns the role midseason. Slaughter figures to make most of his appearances on special teams. Inside Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is a given. The other inside backer spot in new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 defense is a bit more undecided. Craig Robertson was a pleasant surprise last season and looks like he’ll enter his second season on the active roster as the starter after spending time on the practice squad in 2011. Two other second-year players will push Robertson for time. L.J. Fort and Tank Carder were both picked up as undrafted free agents in 2012 and each saw some time last season. James-Michael Johnson was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft from Nevada, but reports have surfaced that he is not in the competition and may be cut. There is no reason to think Robertson won’t be the starter. Expect Fort to slot in as the third man in the rotation. Outside Linebacker First-round pick Barkevious Mingo has told the media that he wants to be the starter by the first regular season game on September 8. He’ll have to beat out converted defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who has been taking reps with the first team at right outside linebacker ahead of Mingo during organized team activities. Mingo will undoubtedly get playing time this season on passing downs, but Sheard is a proven commodity for the Browns and will likely begin the season as the starter. Free agent signee Paul Kruger has been taking first team reps on the left and will surely be the starter. Quentin Groves, he of the solicitation arrest, will add depth to the group. Defensive Line In Ray Horton’s 3-4 alignment, it is harder to separate tackles from ends due to the fact that most 3-4 linemen would be considered tackles in a 4-3. The Browns will start Phil Taylor at the nose with Ahtyba Rubin and newly-signed free agent Desmond Bryant on the ends, that’s a certainty barring an injury to one of the three during camp or the preseason. While the starters are set in stone, their positions aren’t. Don’t be surprised to see Taylor, Rubin, and Bryant lined up in different spots throughout the season. The intrigue is in who will back them up. Billy Winn, John Hughes, and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen all saw some time in the defensive line rotation last year, but it will be interesting to see if any of them find themselves left out of the plans of the new regime that has inherited them. Seventh-round draft pick Armonty Bryant should also make the roster, in spite of his history of legal trouble. Related Articles Cleveland Browns fans and their Trent Richardson paranoia Wrath, anger, indignation – Josh Gordon’s suspension and its impact on the Cleveland Browns The Cleveland Browns defensive rookies – Is starting a realistic or meaningful goal?
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Matt Cassel believes Bills will keep three quarterbacks

St. Louis police seize scalpers' World Series tickets to give to friends

Eli Manning happy Tom Brady will play NFL season opener

Phil Kessel has shed 13 pounds this summer

Cam Newton addresses ‘gang’ photo on Instagram

Steelers defense is younger and faster but not better


Duke basketball to visit White House next Tuesday

Report: Cowboys have interest in Broncos RB Montee Ball

NFL owners to discuss changing Goodell's disciplinary role

Report: Eagles trade Matt Barkley to Arizona Cardinals

Bill Belichick on having Tom Brady back: ‘He never left’

Mendoza replaces Schilling on 'Sunday Night Baseball'

Judge Sarah Thomas as an NFL official, not a female NFL official

Simona Halep popular with fans who want to kiss her

Patriots planned on raising a "Brady banner on opening night

Braves and Phillies sucking at the same time is rare

Montana St. linebacker delivers bone crushing hit in opener

Despite loss, all eyes still on Jim Harbaugh, Wolverines

Kirk Cousins discusses what it’s like to be called ‘Kurt’

Playoffs or not, Bryce Harper is the NL MVP

Donald Sterling’s wife Shelly seeking alimony

Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler: A love/hate relationship

Likely scenarios for current MLB front-office vacancies

Seven takeaways from Eagles final preseason game

Robert Griffin III and a dream deferred

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Robert Griffin III and a dream deferred

Best, worst surprises of NFL preseason

The Gospel Of Harbaugh prepares for its ultimate test of faith

Meet the Utah Utes, the pluckiest program in college football

Iman Shumpert will name daughter Iman Shumpert Jr.

Dallas company celebrates Romo with DirecTV 'crownies'

Top 10 storylines for Week 4 of the NFL preseason

Matt Williams is still hopelessly married to the idea of the closer’s role

Five unique CFB games to watch this weekend

Be careful what you wish for, Jay Gruden

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker