Camp Capsules for Bengals & Browns
Published 3:12 am Tuesday, July 28, 2015
CINCINNATI BENGALS (10-6-1)
OPEN CAMP: July 30, Cincinnati.
LAST YEAR: Reached playoffs for club-record fourth year in row, and became first NFL team to lose four straight opening-round games. 26-10 loss at Indianapolis left Andy Dalton tied with Warren Moon for most consecutive opening-round losses by quarterback. Coach Marvin Lewis fell to 0-6 in postseason, matching Jim Mora for futility. Cincinnati still hasn’t won playoff game since 1990 season, one of worst stretches of postseason futility in NFL history.
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IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: DE Michael Johnson; LB A.J. Hawk; QB Josh Johnson.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: CB Terence Newman; QB Jason Campbell; TEs Jermaine Gresham and Alex Smith; S Taylor Mays.
CAMP NEEDS: Figure out if MLB Vontaze Burfict can do much as he recovers from two knee operations, or whether they’ll be relying on Hawk to start. Pick someone to replace Newman, who left as free agent for Minnesota. Leon Hall returns as starter at other cornerback spot, with Adam “Pacman” Jones returning backup. First-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick assumes he’ll get Newman’s starting job, but Darqueze Dennard — another first-rounder — will push him during most closely watched competition in camp. Also, AJ McCarron and Josh Johnson will compete for No. 2 job behind Dalton.
EXPECTATIONS: Defense slipped last season, ranking last in sacks, but that should improve with Johnson back and tackle Geno Atkins more than one year beyond reconstructive knee surgery. Bengals’ window of opportunity is starting to close, with many of stalwarts in final years of their deals. Anything short of playoff victory would be unacceptable to team that spent lots of money keeping roster intact. Failure to make playoffs or first-round loss would be more evidence of need to overhaul roster, starting with quarterback and perhaps including head coach as well.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (7-9)
OPEN CAMP: July 30, Berea, Ohio
LAST YEAR: Yet another circus as Browns were in playoff contention before dropping last five games, ending coach Mike Pettine’s first season on sour note. There was improvement, but Browns were undermined by sideshows swirling around backup rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel and former Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was suspended for first 10 games and played poorly when he returned.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: QB Josh McCown; WRs Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline; DB Tramon Williams; P Andy Lee; WR Terrelle Pryor; DL Randy Starks.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: WRs Gordon and Miles Austin; QB Brian Hoyer; TE Jordan Cameron; LB Jabaal Sheard; CB Buster Skrine; DL Ahtyba Rubin; K Billy Cundiff; S Jim Leonhard.
CAMP NEEDS: Once again, quarterback remains unsolved mystery. McCown, now 36, showed skills in 2013 with Chicago, but went 1-10 last season in Tampa Bay. Manziel is trying to earn back team’s trust following highly publicized rehab stint during offseason. Gordon is banned for year, depriving club of its best big-play threat.
EXPECTATIONS: Browns were only AFC North team not to make postseason last year. Led by Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden, deep, talented defense has chance to be terrific. McCown will be protected by excellent offensive line, but he could feel pressure if Manziel, who looked lost in two starts last season, gets his act together. Owner Jimmy Haslam’s patience will be tested if team starts slowly.