Chris Pokorny of Dawgs By Nature was nice enough to answer 5 questions about his Cleveland Browns for us. We covered topics such as who will start at quarterback and running back for the Browns.
1. Who is going to start at quarterback? Does the coaching staff have any faith in Johnny Manziel? What about the fans?
If Josh McCown passes the concussion protocol on Friday, then he is expected to start this Sunday. The impression was that Kyle Shanahan was turned off to Johnny Manziel in 2014, so having a new offensive coordinator in John DeFilippo (previously the Raiders' quarterbacks coach) helped Manziel start with a bit of a clean slate. His approach to the game and being mentally prepared has improved, but McCown is still more comfortable with the offense after taking all of the first-team reps in camp. Fans were vocal about wanting to see Manziel in 2014, but after seeing how ill-prepared he was, the reception quickly soured. He's started to gain some of it back, but fans just want somebody who can win for the Browns, and the overall impression seems to be that the answer isn't currently on the team.
2. Give us a player we have never heard of that will have a big impact on this game.
I would say Travis Benjamin, but Titans fans probably remember him as the receiver who caught two touchdown passes in the Browns' epic comeback against Tennessee last season. Most of our impact players are already fairly known, so I'll pick a player who will see more snaps with an opportunity to have a productive day: outside linebacker Armonty Bryant. Scott Solomon, a starting outside linebacker, suffered an ankle injury after just two plays last week. Barkevious Mingo and Nate Orchard would normally replace him, but both of them are slowly being worked back into the rotation as they return from injuries. Bryant spent training camp as an edge rusher with the defensive line group, but cross-trained a bit at outside linebacker. For now, he's thrust into a more prominent role.
3. What is going on in the Browns backfield? Do the coaches trust either back more, or are they just willing to ride the hot hand?
Your guess is as good as mine. By trading Terrance West, the coaching staff gave Isaiah Crowell the opportunity to shine in Week 1, but he wasn't able to do so. The run blocking wasn't stellar either, but the more we see of Crowell, the more he looks like a good back for an up-tempo offense in spot duty and not a full-fledged starter. It sounds like the coaching staff is just itching to give third-round pick Duke Johnson the starting role, but aren't sure how much they can give him right away since he missed the majority of camp with a hamstring injury. I think we'll end up seeing more of Johnson this week.
4. Bovada said at the beginning of the year that Mike Pettine was the coach most likely to get fired first in 2015? Is there any truth to that?
As someone who follows the Browns closely, I think it's absurd to think that if you are a fan of the team, but logical to place a bet on it if you are an outsider looking it. The general manager, on the other hand, has drawn plenty of scrutiny due to failed high-profile draft picks, not wanting to address the wide receiver position in the draft, not attending Pro Days, texting to the sideline last year, and more.
5. Write the headline in Sunday's Tennessean.
You can catch my answers to Chris's questions here.