A few surprises as Cleveland Browns announce their 53-man roster
The Cleveland Browns announced their 53-man roster earlier this week. While this is the first 53-man roster, there will probably be a few adjustments to it as we gear up toward Week 1.
There weren’t too many surprises, but there were a few that had some fans disappointed but also excited about a few that did make the initial cut.
One of the team’s preseason fan favorites was wide receiver, Austin Watkins, who I recently wrote about. Watkins had a career game in preseason when he caught seven passes for 139 yards in the battle against the Philadelphia Eagles. He ended up having several good games throughout the preseason and led the NFL in receiving yards. The Browns now have released him, and while they could potentially bring him back on the practice squad, I have a feeling that he will be claimed off waivers by another squad.
With the return of Marquise Goodwin, the veteran wide receiver, who had been sidelined because of a blood clot issue it gave the Browns the choice to release Watkins. The team decided to only keep six wide receivers in the end, including Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Bell, Cedric Tillman, and Elijah Moore. The team parted ways with both wide receiver Anthony Schwartz and running back Demetric Felton, who both never capitalized on their opportunities.
In another surprise move, the Browns kept Ronnie Hickman, the safety/cornerback formerly of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Hickman had an excellent preseason grabbing three interceptions. This past spring Hickman went undrafted at the NFL Draft and the Browns signed him as a free agent.
Hickman had a good career at Ohio State, and in the years leading up to the NFL Draft, there were thoughts that he would be a high draft pick. However, his junior campaign was a little bit subpar, and he went on to be overlooked at the draft. That ended up being good news for the Browns as they’ve been able to find another valuable bench player.
Cleveland only kept three running backs, including Nick Chubb, Jerome Ford, and newly acquired Pierre Strong Jr.who was traded for this week. Strong will likely get an opportunity early on in the season as we don’t know exactly how serious Ford’s injury to his hamstring is.
Ford has been starting to practice with the team again, but will just have to wait and see. Strong was a fourth-round draft pick a year ago by the New England Patriots and had quite a collegiate career at South Dakota State where he collected over 1,600 yards and had 40 touchdowns. While he’s only in his second season, it’s a solid move for the Browns running back room and will only make the group better.
Some fans were surprised by Cleveland keeping defensive lineman, Jordan Elliott, and offensive lineman, Nick Harris. But for now, they both are on the roster and ready to do work.
In the end, the Browns will likely make more moves before we get to Week 1. Both guard Michael Dunn and defensive tackle Maurice Hurst were released. However, they can both be brought back after the Browns put current players on this 53-man roster on IR. One of those players would include linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk, who suffered a knee injury in this last preseason game.
While all these moves are fun for fans to analyze and critique, what really matters is that the team is prepared and ready to play the Cincinnati Bengals on September 10th.
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