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Manziel at the heart of Cleveland Browns training camp battles

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Can Manziel beat out Hoyer? (©GettyImages)
Can Manziel beat out Hoyer? (©GettyImages).

The training camp battle series continues as we head to Cleveland. By the end of this, we'll have all 32 teams broken down, so you'll be well informed of what battles to look at in camp. 

We're going down the list based off my way too early power rankings.

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#30 Houston Texans

#29 Minnesota Vikings

#28 Washington Redskins

Cleveland Browns

It almost seems like a broken record for the Browns. Watch a first round quarterback fail miserably for two to three years, then draft another one with the 22nd pick in the draft. The last two quarterbacks they selected at 22 were Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden, this time Johnny Manziel. After a horrid 2013 campaign, the Browns decided to let Weeden go. Although the job isn't Manziel's right now according to new head coach Mike Pettine, you'd have to imagine with a bunch of Johnny Manziel jerseys in the stands, after Brian Hoyer's first mistake, they'll be calling for Johnny football. But that's not the only position we'll look at, with the impending Josh Gordon suspension, the Browns also retooled at wideout, bringing in free agents Andrew Hawkins, Nate Burleson and Miles Austin. They also inked veteran free agents on defense in Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner and drafted cornerback Justin Gilbert with the eighth pick in the draft. Cleveland has made the playoffs just once since coming back to the NFL in 1999. 

Training Camp Position Battles to Watch: QB, WR, LG, RG, LB

Quarterback: Brian Hoyer vs Johnny Manziel

As previously noted, Pettine stated Hoyer is the starter. In his three starts last year, the Browns were 3-0 and looked like a different team. They scored 85 points in those three games, compared to averaging just 17 points a game the other 13. Manziel is the home run guy who can also make plays with his feet, but as long as Hoyer is healthy and ready to go, expect him to be the Week 1 starter. Then again, it's tough to not start a guy you trade up in Round 1 to get.

Wide Receiver: The #1 role, Nate Burleson vs Miles Austin vs Andrew Hawkins

If and when Gordon is suspended, it creates a huge hole at the position. It's not easy to replace the receiving yards leader in the NFL despite missing two games last season. He's the playmaker and one of these three need to step into this role. Austin has shown he can do it in the past with the Dallas Cowboys, just hasn't been able to stay on the field the last couple of seasons due to injuries. Burleson is a little past his prime, but is a reliable receiver with sure hands. Hawkins is undersized to be on the outside, but expect the Browns to put him in a lot of packages where he gets the ball in space. 

Left Guard: Joel Bitonio vs Paul McQuistan

McQuistan comes over from Seattle in his second stint with the Browns. Bitonio was taken in the second round of this years draft and the Browns think very highly of him. 

Right Guard: John Greco vs Jason Pinkston

Another battle in the trenches pits Greco and Pinkston. Greco started 14 games last season and 24 in the last two. Pinkston started every game in 2011, and has only started in 8 games since, mainly due to injuries. Greco has the leg up mostly due to that reason. One thing is for certain, in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's system, these two guard battles are vital for his zone blocking system. 

Left Inside Linebacker: Craig Robertson vs Christian Kirksey

Robertson had 85 tackles and three sacks at the position last year. Kirksey comes in via the draft out of the third round from Iowa, where he was captain for a stout defense. Robertson probably has the leg up due to experience, but expect Kirksey to push for the job with his athleticism. 

Next up, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  

Topics:
Cleveland Browns
AFC
NFL
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