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Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Browns Camp Watch

By Jamison Hensley

NFC Camp Watch: East | West | North | SouthAFC: East | West | North | SouthDates

Three thoughts as training camps open around the NFL:

One thing I'm certain of: Brandon Weeden will come out of camp as the starting quarterback. In fact, he could have the job won earlier than that. The Browns' quarterback competition is viewed as a charade because hardly anyone believes Colt McCoy will beat out Weeden. It doesn't make any sense for the Browns to make Weeden wait. A team doesn't draft a 28-year-old quarterback to bring him along slowly.

Besides his age, Weeden stands out because of his arm strength and maturity. He throws a better deep ball than McCoy and he's more accurate. Weeden simply gives the Browns a better chance to win now and in the future. Teams are less scared to throw rookie quarterbacks into games after the recent success of Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton. Pressure doesn't seem to faze a quarterback like Weeden, who has already said he wants to win a Super Bowl before he's done playing.

One thing that might happen: Wide receiveráJosh Gordon gets a crack at starting. It doesn't matter that Gordon wasn't on the team until 13 days ago, when Cleveland selected him in the second round of the supplemental draft. He instantly improves a Browns wide receiver group that ranks among the worst in the NFL and was virtually ignored in free agency and the draft. In the perfect scenario, Gordon would be brought along slowly because he hasn't played a game since 2010. This is far from a perfect scenario with receivers like Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs, Travis Benjamin and Carlton Mitchell.

One NFL executive told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Gordon has "Randy Moss-like"átalents. The problem is, Gordon has Moss-like problems off the field. He was kicked off the Baylor football team after testing positive twice for marijuana. The Browns, though, had to take this risk if they wanted an immediate improvement in their passing game. Pairing Gordon with Greg Little would give the Browns a young and promising wide receiver duo.

One thing we won't see: Defensive tackle Phil Taylor lining up this summer. Taylor, a 2011 first-round pick, is expected to miss the start of the season after having surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. The Browns have expressed confidence that Taylor will return this season. Recovery can take four to six months, depending on the severity of the tear, so Taylor could return sometime in the first half of the regular season.

The Browns went with Scott Paxson in Taylor's spot during spring workouts, but don't be surprised if John Hughes ends up with the job coming out of camp. Hughes, a third-round pick in this year's draft, is 320 pounds and can take up a lot of space inside. But losing Taylor hurts the Browns' chances of improving the NFL's 30th-ranked run defense from a year ago.