Brock Osweiler emblematic of early-camp instability

Print

If you blinked in northern Ohio over the weekend, you missed a potential changing of the guard at quarterback.

To the surprise of anyone tracking reports out of Berea, coach Hue Jackson announced Monday that Houston outcast Brock Osweiler will start the Browns' preseason opener.

Prior to this past weekend, Osweiler had been relegated to reps with the second-team offense while hotshot rookie DeShone Kizer was said to be leading the battle to the point that it was "not even close."

Kizer went on to struggle in Friday night's Orange & Brown scrimmage, leaving his camp completion percentage in team drills at an underwhelming 51.7 percent, per ESPN Cleveland.

Although Cody Kessler leads the trio in camp completion rate through eight practices and the one scrimmage, his arm strength and release leave a lot to be desired.

The primary takeaway from Monday's revelation is not that Osweiler is in the driver's seat. It's that early-August proclamations are too often rendered premature.

"This thing's not over by any stretch," Jackson emphasized.

How can camp observers maintain a reliable read on the changing depth-chart dynamics when the coaches continually adjust their own expectations based on that week's practice results and preseason game film?

Here's what else we learned on Monday:

1. If Osweiler is atop the depth chart by default, the same might be said of Trevor Siemian in Denver. New coach Vance Joseph is affording Paxton Lynch every opportunity to tap into his prodigious potential, announcing Monday that the 2016 first-round pick will start the second preseason game after Siemian handles those responsibilities in Thursday night's opener. To this point, Lynch has failed to close the gap on the incumbent starter.

2. While the quarterback competitions in Cleveland and Denver remain fluid, Tom Savage continues to solidify the QB1 job in Houston. As expected, the veteran will start against the Panthers in the Texans' preseason opener Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network).

3. Jay Cutler's $10 million contract with a chance to earn $3 million more in incentives strongly suggests the Dolphins expect Ryan Tannehill to sit out the 2017 season with a partial tear in his ACL. Does that financial commitment to Cutler also mean trusty backup Matt Moore won't be given a realistic shot at the starting job?

"I don't have to make that announcement right now," coach Adam Gase said Monday, "but (Cutler) didn't come out of retirement to stand on the sidelines."

4. With no signing imminent in Baltimore, Colin Kaepernick is left languishing as the most accomplished quarterback on the open market. John Schneider, the one general manager to visit with Kaepernick since free agency opened in March, hasn't closed the door on the idea of upgrading behind Russell Wilson in Seattle.

"Yeah, I think he does play," Schneider said Monday's edition of Inside Training Camp Live. "I don't think anyone else brought him in, but we were doing our due diligence. We had a great visit with him. I think he plays in the league."

Schneider went on to explain that he and coach Pete Carroll sat down for a heart-to-heart with Kaepernick so the Seahawks' brass would know "exactly where he stands and we can go to him if needed."

Transaction Corner


1. Gang Green is turning ever more gangrenous. The Jets' already threadbare offensive roster unraveled even further Monday, following news that No. 1 receiver Quincy Enunwa will miss the entire 2017 season with a bulging disc in his neck. Two years after Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker became the first duo in NFL history to catch at least one touchdown apiece in nine different games, the entire 2017 camp corps has combined for six career scores.

2. Prior to Monday's addition of veteran wideout Anquan Boldin, New York's wide receiver corps might have been the only one in a sadder state of affairs than Buffalo's. The sure-handed 36-year-old should slide right into the slot, complementing Sammy Watkins and rookie Zay Jones.

3. As Boldin signs on for a 15th season, former Patriots and Texans run-stuffer Vince Wilfork has opted against a 14th year in the NFL. Wilfork is turning in his helmet, cleats and shoulder pads for overalls, lump charcoal and slow-smoked meats.

4. After spotting rookie Dalvin Cook a head start, Latavius Murray is ready to battle for carries in the Vikings' backfield. Finally recovered from offseason ankle surgery, the former Raiders power back has been activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

5. Bengals rookie John Ross has competition for the honor of NFL's fastest man. U.S. Olympic sprinter Marvin Bracy is back in the league after signing with the Colts. The former Florida State track and field star didn't last long in previous stints with the Packers and Cardinals.

Depth Chart Drama


1. The 49ers' offseason carrot-and-stick routine is paying off beautifully with a reinvigorated Carlos Hyde. The enigmatic running back has been one of the best players in San Francisco's camp after arriving in peak physical condition.

"If you asked me a couple of months ago, I would have said it was pretty clear that the running back was on his way out of San Francisco," NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport said on Inside Training Camp Live. "It is not like that at all. I've been talking to 49ers people all day. It sounds like the light just came on for him. ... He has been just a beast, someone they are very, very excited about, viewed as the bell cow of their offense."

2. Even after missing the offseason program and nursing a hamstring injury early in camp, rookie wide receiver Corey Davis is listed as the starter opposite Rishard Matthews on the Titans' first unofficial depth chart.

3. The same can't be said for Mike Gillislee in New England. Signed away from Buffalo, Gillislee is listed behind Rex Burkhead and special teamer Brandon Bolden as a third-string running back. Although Gillislee and Burkhead are ultimately expected to split the workload that went to LeGarrette Blount last season, nothing is written in stone.

4. An All Pro kick-return specialist as a rookie, Tyreek Hill is expected to surrender the bulk of his return duties in 2017, per the Kansas City Star. Minus veteran Jeremy Maclin, Hill is ticketed for the No. 1 receiver role in Andy Reid's offense this season.

5. The Steelers believe Martavis Bryant will finally get the green light to rejoin the team this week, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The freakishly talented wideout has been sitting out practices while awaiting full clearance to return from the suspension that cost him the entirety of the 2016 season.

Print

Fan Discussion