By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:
MITCH — People often forget the special-teams’ woes last season. Is it smart to have so many rookies on special teams? Will we see improvement?
Mitch, special teams are always going to be where rookies end up. That’s a given on any NFL team, because rookies mostly fill out the bottom of the depth chart at each position and the bottom of the depth chart is the primary source of kick-coverage units.
With the Browns being one of the younger teams in the league, it stands to reason that they are likely to have an abundance of rookies on special teams. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because younger players bring a higher level of speed and athleticism. It also can, an usually does, lead to more mistakes.
But I do think we will see overall improvement, because, frankly, it couldn’t get any worse than what we saw last season, especially with the multiple disasters on long snaps.
Based on what I saw of these younger players going down the field in kick-coverage drills during offseason workouts, there is every reason to believe the Browns will generally be better at covering kicks. They covered plenty of ground quickly and, according to the coaches, kept mistakes to a minimum.
And with Phil Dawson and Reggie Hodges back from the torn Achilles that sidelined him for all of last season, the Browns have one of the better kicker-punter combinations in the league.
DOMINICK — I think we’ll have the same season that the Bengals had last season, but with a better defense.
If that’s the case, Dominick, Browns fans should be very happy. If you’re right, you’re talking about the Browns making the playoffs and you’re talking about a rookie quarterback, Brandon Weeden, having the strong first year that Andy Dalton did for the Bengals.
The Bengals also had a pretty good defense. I agree that the Browns’ defense can make significant strides over its mostly solid performance in 2011, and if that’s the case, then it should help lead to more victories. Additionally, I would expect the Browns’ defense to be highly physical, which is a trademark of Cincinnati’s defense.
The additions of ends Frostee Rucker and Jaqua Parker should help upgrade the pass rush. Rookie tackles John Hughes and Billy Winn should help pick up the interior slack caused by losing Phil Taylor to a torn pectoral muscle. The return of safety T.J. Ward from the foot injury that caused him to miss more than half of last season is another reason to expect defensive improvement, as is the full season and full offseason the incumbents had to better understand Dick Jauron’s scheme.
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