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Browns’ offseason needs extend beyond just the quarterback position – Cleveland Browns Blog

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A former Cleveland Browns player was on the phone this week, advocating that he would not draft a quarterback if he were running the Browns.

Guys come out unprepared these days and teams give them too much money, he said, adding that the Browns should build the team and then place the quarterback. Sort of like how Ben Roethlisberger stepped into a winning situation in Pittsburgh way back when the Browns passed on him.

This figures to be an argument the Browns will ignore this offseason. They will draft a quarterback, and they will make every effort to sign a veteran, with AJ McCarron of the Cincinnati Bengals the most likely target. Those two players will join DeShone Kizer.

The Browns may not spend $30 million for Kirk Cousins, but they will do everything else they can to fortify and solidify the position.

That said, the Browns also have plenty of other needs that can’t be ignored. What are their top needs this offseason?

Quarterback: See above. It’s a given every year. The hope is that after this offseason it won’t be a given in 2019.

Receiver: One fact illustrates this glaring need: Last season Kenny Britt tied for the team lead among the wide receiver group in receiving touchdowns with two. Britt, Rashard Higgins and Corey Coleman all had two, which tied for 109th in the NFL. The Browns had seven TDs from wide receivers, tied with the Indianapolis Colts for second fewest. Nineteen individual receivers had more than seven touchdowns. The need at this position is Grand Canyonesque and will have the Browns closely watching to see whether Jarvis Landry (Miami Dolphins) and Allen Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars) reach free agency or get the franchise tag.

Cornerback: The defense showed great improvement in several areas during a winless season, especially against the run. But the passing defense gave up 28 touchdown throws, fourth highest in the league, and had only seven interceptions, second fewest. That’s not a good combination. The Browns need a corner who can cover and force turnovers, which is why they were willing to host former Colts corner Vontae Davis.

Left tackle: Joe Thomas may or may not retire. If his elbow injury prompts Thomas to retire, the Browns will have to scramble to find a suitable replacement. Even if Thomas does play, it’s probably for just one more season. Regardless, the Browns need to be thinking about a future without him.

Safety: Jabrill Peppers played the (very) deep middle of the field because that is a part of Gregg Williams’ defense, plus Peppers was the best the Browns had. The team recognizes that Peppers may be better suited closer to the line so he can play the way he did in college, which means Cleveland must find a true free safety. Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) is an excellent, highly regarded college player. The idea of pairing him with Peppers at safety and adding a corner to go with defensive ends Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah and linebackers Jamie Collins, Joe Schobert (Pro Bowl) and Chris Kirksey would seem to solidify the defense.

Running back: Assuming Isaiah Crowell leaves via free agency, the Browns will need a back to pair with Duke Johnson. As much as the Browns like Johnson, there is concern he may not hold up if he is the main back. Thus, they would like to form another tandem like the one they had with Crowell. The obvious answer would be Saquon Barkley in the draft (Pick 4 overall), but if the Browns decide Fitzpatrick is the better option at that pick, there still will be good backs available in the second round.

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Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones to play against Detroit Lions despite hamstring

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Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who was limited in practice time this week with a hamstring injury, will play Sunday against the Detroit Lions, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Jones returned to the lineup last Sunday and had eight catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns in the Falcons’ 40-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

After sitting out the Falcons’ Week 3 loss to the Chicago Bears, he played just 15 snaps in Week 4 and did not play in Week 5 with the same hamstring injury.

Jones sat out practice Wednesday before being a limited participant Thursday and Friday.

He has 23 catches for 350 yards and two touchdowns this season.

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Arizona Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins expected to face Seattle Seahawks

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Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins, listed as questionable for Sunday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks due to an ankle injury, is expected to play, a source tells ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Hopkins was held out of practice this week due to the injury, which has plagued him much of the season. Despite regularly appearing on the injury report, Hopkins hasn’t missed a game and leads the NFL with 47 receptions for a league-leading 601 yards and two touchdowns.

Hopkins had two receptions for 73 yards in Monday night’s win over Dallas. He’s missed just two games due to injury in his eight-year career.

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Las Vegas Raiders activate offensive linemen Kolton Miller, Denzelle Good, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson off COVID-19 list

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HENDERSON, Nev. — The Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday activated four starting offensive linemen who had close contact with right tackle Trent Brown earlier this week.

Left tackle Kolton Miller, left guard Denzelle Good, center Rodney Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson came off the COVID-19 list Saturday but must still test negative for the virus on Sunday morning in order to play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

None of the four players have tested positive since going on the COVID-19 list this week as “high risk” close contacts to right tackle Trent Brown, who did test positive on Wednesday morning.

The four players were with Brown at practice on Monday. According to league protocol, as high risk contacts, they had to test negative for five consecutive days, plus the last day of contact.

Safety Johnathan Abram had contact with Brown on Tuesday, so there is not enough time for him to finish the protocol and play against Tampa Bay.

Brown was not wearing his tracking device, as mandated by NFL protocol, on Monday, so practice film had to be scoured to see who Brown had been close to that day.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Friday that Brown, who remains on the COVID-19 list, was feeling better.

With Miller, Good, Hudson and Jackson in self-isolation and joining the Raiders virtually this week to prepare, Las Vegas practiced with an offensive line of Brandon Parker, John Simpson, Andre James, Patrick Omameh and Sam Young. Left guard Richie Incognito remains on injured reserve.

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