Training camps are important for every NFL team. They give squads a chance to incorporate new additions, groom rookies, get veterans into shape and, of course, fill empty roster spots. No franchise will say training camp is unimportant.
At the same time, each and every year, it is more pivotal for select teams. Next season, the Cleveland Browns will be among that group of squads.
Most of the core players are expected back, and the team doesn’t have to worry about holding a quarterback tryout. Baker Mayfield has underwhelmed under center, but not so much that his job is in jeopardy entering the third year of his career. Continuity at the league’s most important position is a valuable ingredient.
However, the Browns have a ton of other battles and questions that will be facing them. Above all, they have to worry about the health of star wideouts Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.
Both will be returning from offseason surgeries. Though neither one’s injury is considered particularly serious, they will each lose valuable time to train. Getting them in game shape could take longer than usual, and there’s always the chance one of them isn’t the same compared to seasons past. Cleveland might even want to think about spending big in free agency on another receiver or tight end to hedge its bets against potential regression from OBJ or Landry.
Equally important, the Browns will have a lot of new faces on the offensive line. They have holes both on the ends and the inside of the offensive line. They’ll no doubt draft a guard and tackle, and they’re expected to add at least one more in free agency.
And while the importance of offensive linemen is often overlooked, it really shouldn’t be. There’s a reason that quarterbacks and running backs buy gifts for their offensive linemen when they’re in the midst of a career season. They understand that run-blocking and pass protection is paramount.
Cleveland struggled mightily in both areas last year. That needs to be addressed immediately and in a big way if the team is going to clinch its first playoff bid since 2002. And no matter how many talented options they sign for the offensive line, they need Mayfield to get reps with the newest additions so that he can develop timing and chemistry on snap counts and every-down tendencies.
So yeah, the Browns are not unique in that they’ll have much to do during training camp this year. They will, however, have more riding on it than most others.