AFC North mailbag: Browns

July, 7, 2009
7/07/09
4:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Let's get to some AFC North mail on the Cleveland Browns.

Brandon from Kansas City, Mo., writes: Even if Jamal Lewis is healthy, will he have much impact this year for the Browns? I don't see them having a good running game this year. Your thoughts?

James Walker: Lewis didn't participate much this offseason because he is still recovering from ankle surgery. So I don't have an update on how well he's running. What I do know is the coaching staff likes what Lewis brings to the table and will give him plenty of opportunities in Cleveland's new offense. Browns coach Eric Mangini wants to control the clock with a power running game. The Browns are aiming to be physical and smart, two things they've lacked in prior years. That fits Lewis well if he gets healthy.


Rob from Piqua, Ohio, wants to know if second-year linebacker Alex Hall has potential to get double-digit sacks this year.

James Walker: Hall is a confident young player who showed some potential in limited playing time last year. I expect the Browns to increase his role, but I don't expect him to make that kind of significant leap to double-digit sacks. Cleveland hopes to get that kind of production out of teammate Kamerion Wimbley, who had 11 sacks as a rookie. The fact that Wimbley's done it before makes him a more viable candidate.


Justin Kowalczyk from Mesa, Ariz., is an optimistic Browns fan who is curious about the progress of starting safety Abram Elam.

James Walker: Elam is a player Mangini really liked and wanted to bring over from the New York Jets, where he was primarily a backup. The Browns tried to sign him as a restricted free agent this offseason and failed. Then Cleveland was able to get Elam from New York by trading the No. 5 overall pick. He doesn't appear as athletic as Sean Jones, the player Elam is replacing. But he seems to have a good understanding of the defense, which puts him ahead of his teammates. I'm interested to see how physical Elam is once the team puts pads on, because the Browns don't have many enforcers.


DJ Tommy Gunnz from Northern Cambria, Pa., wants an update on former Browns cornerback Gary Baxter.

James Walker: Baxter retired from football after a failed attempt to return from dual patellar tendon tears. He made a valiant effort but couldn't return to form. Last I heard, Baxter had shown some interest in pursuing sports broadcasting.


Shane from Cleveland writes: Hey, James, what is the current situation of the quarterback competition in Cleveland?

James Walker: Shane, welcome to the AFC North blog. You must be a new reader, because we've been writing updates on the Browns' quarterback competition for months. Mangini isn't saying much, but trusting my eyes and the team's actions it is pretty clear Brady Quinn still holds a slight lead over Derek Anderson. Quinn had a decent, albeit not spectacular, minicamp. Anderson struggled most of the way through and missed the final two practices with a calf injury. But the coaching staff will not make any premature decisions. They will wait until both quarterbacks perform in preseason games, so it is still very much an open competition. Until then, continue reading the blog for updates. We're going to be all over this story next month.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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