- Tom Carpenter, Fantasy and Insider
How much the Cleveland Browns improve this season will depend a lot on how well second-year QB Brandon Weeden performs, but there are also questions when it comes to their secondary. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer thinks that keeping the Browns' safeties out of the infirmary will be key this season.
"As for the safeties, health is a concern," she noted. "[T.J.] Ward missed half of 2011 with a foot injury and closed out last season on IR with a knee injury. Free safety Tashaun Gipson missed five games at midseason with a knee ailment and another one late with a foot injury. He showed flashes when healthy. Johnson Bademosi will press him. Chris Owens and Buster Skrine will vie for time at corner."
Cornerback is the position that ESPN AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley thinks the Browns failed to upgrade enough this offseason:
"There was no criticism over the Browns not bringing back Sheldon Brown, who started the past three seasons for Cleveland. The second-guessing comes from the fact that the Browns did the minimum to replace him. They drafted Leon McFadden in the third round and didn't sign an established starter in free agency. The most high-profile cornerback signed by the Browns was Chris Owens, who was benched last season when he was the Atlanta Falcons' nickelback. Like the Bengals, Cleveland had the salary-cap room to make a significant upgrade. The Browns had free agent Brent Grimes in for a visit before he signed with the Miami Dolphins, and they didn't actively pursue the likes of free agents Sean Smith, Keenan Lewis, Antoine Cason, Chris Houston and Aqib Talib. There is a big drop-off from Joe Haden to the rest of the cornerbacks."