Shark Bites

Browns HC Hue Jackson announced on Wednesday that QB Brock Osweiler will start the team's 2nd preseason game on Monday night against the Giants. The veteran struggled to 6-of-14 passing in the opener, while DeShone Kizer shined. But Cleveland isn't ready to hand the keys to the rookie just yet. Jackson did add that Kizer will be the 2nd QB in the game on Monday -- a promotion from last week, when he was QB #3. It sure seems like QB Cody Kessler is out of this competition. Kizer remains a strong bet to start the most games for the Browns this season and still has a shot to win the Week 1 job.

DeShone Kizer was the 3rd Browns QB into Thursday night's preseason opener, but he was easily the most impressive. The rookie finished 11-of-18 for 184 yards, highlighted by a 45-yard TD to WR Jordan Payton. He also picked up 12 yards on 3 carries. QB Brock Osweiler got the start but completed just 6 of 14 passes for 42 yards. QB Cody Kessler was next in line, finishing 5-of-10 for 47 yards. Clearly the most talented QB in Cleveland, bet on Kizer making the most starts this season. He still has a shot to win the Week 1 nod.

Browns QB Brock Osweiler will start the team's preseason opener against the Saints on Thursday. So they weren't kidding when they said Osweiler is in the mix to start. Rookie DeShone Kizer has reportedly been the best QB early in camp, but he struggled in the team's scrimmage on Friday. “A lot goes into our evaluation but it’s always going to be about efficiently and effectively running the offense," HC Hue Jackson said. "You want your starter to be able to do that despite any circumstance. Brock hasn’t really gotten any first team reps and this will give him that chance. We look forward to seeing what he can do with this opportunity throughout the week and against the Saints." Cody Kessler will be the 2nd QB in the game, followed by Kizer and Kevin Hogan. This competition is far from over, of course. But it appears to be a true 3-man race.

Browns RB Duke Johnson has been "doing everything" on offense early in training camp, HC Hue Jackson said. "He can catch out of the backfield. He runs the ball. We line him up in different places where we can get an advantage with him. He is a weapon for us," Jackson gushed. "We are just trying to use him as much as we can, and we do." Isaiah Crowell has established himself as Cleveland's lead back, but there's still room for Johnson. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 74 totes last year and hauled in 53 of 74 targets. Only 5 RBs caught more passes. Johnson ranked 30th at his position in PPR points in 2016 and sits in a similar spot in our 2017 PPR rankings. He's coming off the board at RB39 in recent MFL10 drafts.

Browns WR Corey Coleman told reporters on Thursday that he's been cleared for the start of training camp. The 2016 first-rounder missed minicamp with a sore hamstring -- a problem that's becoming too common. The good news is that he's still locked in to a starting spot in Cleveland, with the potential to emerge as the team's #1 WR. Coleman is a risk/reward fantasy pick.

Browns HC Hue Jackson said Wednesday that QB Cody Kessler will open training camp as the starter. As expected. Kessler, despite entering just his 2nd NFL season, is the only 1 of Cleveland's top 3 QBs who was with the team last year. Rookie DeShone Kizer and Brock Osweiler both remain in the mix, though, per Jackson. Kizer worked in with the starters in June minicamp, while Osweiler was with the 2nd team. We'll keep an eye on this one, although whoever starts for Cleveland will be just a lower-end QB2 in fantasy football.

Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot reports that Browns RB Duke Johnson has been lining up as a slot receiver "and could replace Andrew Hawkins in that role this season." Johnson's receiving skills are no secret, but that specific role should increase his playing time and give the young RB a path to regular touches even if Isaiah Crowell continues to work as the clear lead back. Johnson finished 2016 third on the team in targets (74) and 5th among all NFL RBs in that category. Hawkins finished last year 5th on the team with 54 targets. Johnson's target ceiling for 2017 could reach 90 -- perhaps even higher if WR Corey Coleman struggles further with durability issues.

Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot expects QB DeShone Kizer to play "early on" this season. The 2nd-round rookie built buzz this spring and got some 1st-team reps in June minicamp. QB Cody Kessler showed surprisingly well last year but can't match Kizer's combination of size, athleticism and arm strength. It makes sense for Cleveland to get a gook look at Kizer before deciding whether to use another early pick on a QB in the 2018 draft.

Browns TE Seth DeValve will head to training camp next month after a strong offseason. “Most of his development in the offseason was that he put on a little weight, he is noticeably stronger, he is faster and he is healthier,” TEs coach Greg Seamon said at the end of June minicamp. “His ability to run routes, catch the ball, leave his feet, catch the ball away from his body and he has a big catch radius, I think those things are showing up out here." DeValve finished with just 10 catches for 127 yards and 2 scores last year, but the quiet season wasn't a surprise. He was a 4th-round rookie out of Princeton playing in a bad Browns offense. DeValve is a 6'2, 244-pounder who registered a 96th percentile SPARQ score last year, though, so there's upside here. David Njoku remains the favorite to leads Browns TEs in targets this season. But we know that rookie TEs tend to struggle. DeValve is worth monitoring, especially in dynasty leagues.

The Browns like what they've seen from 2nd-year WR Ricardo Louis this offseason. "He has really improved," HC Hue Jackson said. "Now he lines up at the line of scrimmage and hears the play and sees the defense and recognizes the coverage, he goes 100 miles per hour," WRs coach Al Saunders added. "He's a talented young man." Louis was raw coming out of Auburn last year and finished with just 18 catches for 205 scoreless yards as a rookie. But he goes 6'2, 215 pounds and tested as an 88th percentile athletic. This is an intriguing dynasty stash, but Louis will need a Kenny Britt or Corey Coleman injury to have a shot at real fantasy value in 2017.

The Browns announced Saturday that DE Myles Garrett has a lateral sprain in his left foot and is expected to be ready when training camp starts in late July. That's good news compared with potentially more serious injuries, but we'll still need to watch that foot -- along with the chance of any compensatory issues -- as camp gets rolling.

Browns DE Myles Garrett suffered a left foot injury in practice Wednesday that was still being evaluated as of Thursday, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. The team had held Garrett out of some earlier OTA workouts because of a sore foot. A high left ankle sprain cost him 2 games in his final college season. This is a worrisome situation for the rookie's 2017 IDP potential, though it shouldn't affect his long-term outlook for dynasty leagues.

Browns QB DeShone Kizer rotated in with the 1st-team offense at Tuesday's minicamp practice. HC Hue Jackson downplayed the development afterward. “That’s the way it’s been since OTAs have started," Jackson said. "We’re just mixing and matching and giving guys opportunities. As I told you, I’m going to find out about guys, that’s what I have to do over these next couple of days before we go to training camp." Fair. But Kizer has been buzzing over the past month. Insider Mary Kay Cabot says the rookie has "displayed excellent physical skills and he’s picking up the offense quickly." Kizer is a strong bet to make starts this season and could even end up leading the 2017 Browns in pass attempts.

Browns HC Hue Jackson told the team website that QB Brock Osweiler "has been a pleasant surprise" so far. “Since he has been here, he has been outstanding," Jackson said. "Everybody has a reputation before them. His was a little bit different. He’s not any of that, that we saw. The guy has been outstanding in our building, and I think that’s what is most important.” There should be a fairly open competition at QB in Cleveland this summer, with Cody Kessler as the early favorite. We'll see where this goes.

Browns WR Corey Coleman is dealing with a "sore hamstring," a source tells insider Mary Kay Cabot. It's in addition to the injury Coleman suffered in an OTA workout last week. The hamstring is particularly worrisome, though. Coleman was redshirted as a freshman at Baylor because of hamstring trouble, missed 3 games with a hamstring injury in 2014 and sat out the first 2 preseason games last year with a bum hammy. He also played through a groin injury in 2015 that eventually required sports hernia surgery. Durability is a real concern here. Coleman will be held out of the rest of spring workouts but is tentatively expected to be ready for the start of training camp.

The Browns might hold WR Corey Coleman out of action until training camp begins after a recent fall while going for a pass in an OTA practice, according to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot. "Right now I'm going to keep him out for a little while and again, that was a tough spill for him,'' said Jackson. "A little tougher than I thought but he's making his way through. You know Corey. He wants to be back out there right now but I just think now is the time if a guy is kind of banged up a little bit to make sure they take care of him so that we get him back for training camp." It's not yet clear what kind of injury Coleman might be dealing with, but it also doesn't seem too worrisome for now. We'll keep an eye out for any updates as OTAs pass and we get closer to camp.

Per NFL Network and other outlets, suspended Browns WR Josh Gordon was denied reinstatement by the NFL. Out of football since 2014, Gordon can apply again in the fall. He remains a shaky bet to ever return to the NFL following several punishments under the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Browns RB Isaiah Crowell signed his restricted free agent tender Wednesday. That's not a surprising move, given the lack of interest from potential suitors (who would have had to give a 2nd-round pick) this offseason. It locks Crowell in with Cleveland for at least the coming season, though. And the 2 sides reportedly started the offseason interested in a longer-term deal. We'll see what comes of that. As it is, Crowell will head into 2017 as the clear lead runner for the Browns and an upside fantasy football option. He ranked 9th in the league with 4.8 yards per carry in 2016.

The Browns nabbed Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer with the 52nd pick of the draft. Kizer is a big dude (6’4, 233 pounds) and might have the most pure arm talent in this year’s QB class. But he’s more project than NFL-ready prospect at this point. Kizer’s accuracy comes and goes — evidenced by his 60.7% completion rate over 2 years at Notre Dame. His footwork needs fixing. And his decision-making is inconsistent. Hopefully the Browns let him sit a year — they’re not going to win many games in 2017 anyway — and refine his game. Kizer immediately becomes the best talent in Cleveland’s QB room, though, so it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see him make starts this year.

The Browns plan to play 1st-round pick Jabrill Peppers at SS, while also finding him roles on offense and special teams, according to beat writer Scott Petrak. Peppers grabbed just 1 INT over 3 years at Michigan but displayed impressive versatility. That included spending most of his junior season at LB. Don't be surprised to see Peppers in the box often, which should help his tackle numbers. He'll certainly be worth a look in IDP drafts -- whether you're playing dynasty or redraft.

 
 
 

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