Hey Tony: Was there no risk in the Greg Robinson cut and sign deal because there was no risk of another NFL team picking him up? If that’s the case, why is he our starting LT? Please tell me we will draft a LT next year.
-- Jason, Weeki Wachee, FL
Hey Jason: The gist of the Robinson cut-and-sign was the Browns needed Drew Forbes on their 53-man roster for 24 hours before being allowed to move him to injured reserve with a designation for return. It’s an arcane NFL roster rule. Teams often fall back on their relationships with players and/or agents when in these type of procedural binds. John Dorsey had a relationship with Robinson and his agents to accommodate this minor move. Besides, who’s going to match the Browns’ $7 million one-year guarantee for Robinson at this late date in the development of their team? Plus, the agent and player agreed to play along. As for drafting a left tackle next year, yes, I think it’s in the cards. Robinson is under contract only through 2019 and the Browns have no developmental tackle on the roster.
Hey Tony: On a scale of 1-10 (“1” not worried at all and “10” it will destroy our season): How worried are you about the RIGHT side of our offensive line?
-- Cory, Phoenix, AZ
Hey Cory: I’m at about a 5 on this Richter Scale. I’m more concerned about the lack of depth at offensive tackle if one of the two starters goes down.
Hey Tony: Is the main reason the Browns kept Austin Seibert as their kicker because they wanted something to show for their Josh Gordon trade?
-- Josh, Galena, OH
Hey Josh: The main reason is the other guy was banging the uprights in practice and Seibert got his head straight and his field goals followed.
Hey Tony: The Browns have a new special teams coach, drafted a new rookie kicker and replaced a reliable veteran punter with a gifted but raw talent. The unit was one of the worst in the league. How much improvement do we need to see before we can call the experiment a success?
-- Angelo, Warsaw, Poland
Hey Angelo: The Browns missed 12 kicks last year – six field goals and six PATs. If they cut that in half, they would have made the playoffs. Also, they were among the worst in number of penalties on special teams. New special teams coach Mike Priefer has traditionally had teams among the fewest in penalties. Improvement in those two areas will help their cause immensely.
Hey Tony: Who will be the kick returner and punt returner? Can’t risk Dontrell Hilliard on KR and I have NO idea who the PR is now.
-- Chuck, Silver Spring, MD
Hey Chuck: It appears that Hilliard and running back D’Ernest Johnson will be the lead returners for the time being. They finished the preseason handling the chores. Keep in mind that Antonio Callaway probably would have been the return specialist – he’s the most polished – but Hilliard and Johnson were trained for the job when Callaway’s appeal of a four-game suspension was denied. Returning kicks might be Callaway’s immediate task upon reinstatement. And how’s this for an insurance policy at punt returner with a game on the line: Odell Beckham Jr.?
Hey Tony: Please compare Garrett Gilbert to Brian Hoyer when Hoyer first arrived in Cleveland. He seems to have quick reads like Hoyer.
-- John, Concord, OH
Hey John: One difference in Hoyer’s favor: He put his time behind Tom Brady to good use and learned how to prepare for an opponent throughout the week and tried to impart that edge to his teammates. One difference in Gilbert’s favor: A better arm and athletic ability.
Hey Tony: What did Braxton Miller do, or what did he lack, that told the Browns he should be cut?
-- Nick, Tallahassee, FL
Hey Nick: I think the Browns wanted to bring Miller in to get an up-close read on his skills and general health. I’m not sure they saw the speed and quickness they remembered from his OSU days. There is also a question about his durability. Perhaps they give him a call down the road if a need arises.
Hey Tony: Do you think the Browns have done enough at the TE position? Or is that something that will be explored more next year?
-- Ryan, New York City, NY
Hey Ryan: I would list tight end as the weakest position group on the roster. It has lots of athletic ability but not much NFL production beyond starter David Njoku.
Hey Tony: Favorite bottom of roster keep (or special teams)?
-- Richie, Tiffin, OH
Hey Richie: I liked the idea of keeping punter Jamie Gillan, though I admit there is a risk factor there. After that, I wouldn’t get too excited over the last spots at each position group.
Hey Tony: Wondering who was going to win the jobs at guard and kicker was the big debate during camp this year. Is this what good team problems look like?
-- Jay, Cleveland, OH
Hey Jay: The Browns are strong in the following areas: Defensive line, quarterback, front-line wide receiver, secondary, starting running back. No roster is 100 percent complete. So, yes, the fact that the biggest competitions were at guard and kicker and punter reflects on the strength of the roster.
Hey Tony: How come Derrick Willies and Jaelen Strong didn’t make the cut and they bring in Taywan Taylor who hasn’t been in camp who doesn’t know system?
-- Chad, Erie, PA
Hey Chad: I think it comes down to this: The Browns have a good idea of the “ceiling” of Willies and Strong. They don’t know what the ceiling of Taylor is. They like his speed.
Hey Tony: Do the new receivers have enough time to learn the playbook before game 1? If not, then how does that impact the play calling?
-- Pat, Carrollton, OH
Hey Pat: Let me put it this way. I wouldn’t play Taylor and KhaDarel Hodge on your fantasy team this week.
Hey Tony: Why does it seem like every team struggles to fine solid offensive linemen? Since it’s not a "skill position".
-- Scott, Garfield Heights, OH
Hey Scott: Coaches I’ve spoken to blame this on the CBA rules that limit the time coaches can spend with players in the so-called offseason. They say the offensive line is affected way more than any position group. Linemen need more time together than any other group.
Hey Tony: Does the practice squad practice?
-- Dean, Youngstown, OH
Hey Dean: Well … yeah. The purpose of the practice squad was to give coaches healthy bodies to serve on the scout team when the attrition of a typical season takes its toll on every roster.