The Detroit Lions are faced with four road games in their first six, a stretch that ends with a game in Cleveland against the Browns.
To get a feel for the Browns side of preparations for the 2013 season, I got together with Pete Smith of Dawgpound Daily for a quick Q&A.
1. How would you assess the team’s offseason? Did they do what they needed to do through the draft and free agency?
The offseason for the Browns was good in that they appeared to have really strengthened the front seven of the defense. For the first time in a long time, the team appears to have units of strength rather than simply a few players. They should be a better football team but they still have work to do. The offensive line and defensive lines appear to be strengths but young players have to mature and step up elsewhere or they have to determine if they have to upgrade those positions later including quarterback, wide receiver, safety, and tight end.
2. Which Rookie are you most excited to see play in 2013 and why?
Barkevious Mingo is the guy. He is an athletic freak and a weapon on defense and the team has a new defensive coordinator in Ray Horton who will be tasked with using him. Part of the reason he is so exciting is the Browns have Jabaal Sheard and Paul Kruger as their starting outside linebackers at least initially, so Mingo is somewhat of a wildcard. He wants to win the starting job, so he is going to have to make big strides to do it.
3. What is the biggest question that still needs to be answered heading into training camp?
The starting free safety job. It is going to be a battle in training camp that is between Tashaun Gipson, Jamoris Slaughter, and maybe Johnson Bademosi. Gipson might be the early favorite but he played sparingly last year, Slaughter is a rookie, and Bademosi was a corner. It is a bit of an odd situation and if the guys struggle, it is possible they could sign a veteran later in the process such as Kerry Rhodes.
4. What are your expectations for the team in 2013?
Much is going to rest on the strides Weeden is or is not able to make this year and if he has a future as the starter, but the Browns should be playing relevant football into December, ending up somewhere around 7-9.
5. Right here, right now, are you marking down the game against the Lions as a win, loss or toss-up?
It is a toss up. These two teams have such a bizarre track record when they get together that anything is possible. They play in the preseason for the ship before meeting in the regular season. It could easily be a game that is a battle of field goals or a shootout like with Matthew Stafford and Brady Quinn. The Browns and Lions tend to be a great game between mediocre teams but both might be heading in a better direction.
For more on the Browns, check out Dawg Pound Daily.