2 Browns first-stringers in danger of losing starting jobs ahead of 2021 NFL season
The Cleveland Browns are coming off an impressive campaign after successfully ending their 18-year playoff drought in the 2020 NFL season. Kevin Stefanski and his men will now begin their 2021 campaign with hopes of making a deeper run in the postseason this time around.
Certainly, the Browns have the level of talent to compete with the league’s best teams led by Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb, Baker Mayfield, and Myles Garrett. However, they still have more work to do in terms of figuring out who will best fit the roles they have within the team.
Borderline-level starters will definitely have their work cut out for them as they seek to reclaim their spots in the starting lineup next season.
Here are two Browns starters who are in danger of being relegated to a bench role in the 2021 season:
Browns roster intrigues:
Wide receiver Rashard Higgins has always been a mainstay for Cleveland dating back to his rookie season in 2016. However, he has yet to firmly establish himself as a significant contributor to the team’s offense up to this day.
Looking back, Higgins had a disappointing 2019 campaign for the Browns. He was underutilized by former head coach Freddie Kitchens. With the arrival of Stefanski and his staff, he was then able to regain momentum, which led him to have a respectable showing in the 2020 season when he notched 599 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 13 appearances.
Despite having a career season, Higgins is still finding himself on the edge. He has yet to secure the third wide receiver spot on the roster. The continuous improvement of an up-and-coming talent, Donovan Peoples-Jones, seems to be the biggest hindrance for Higgins’ chances to be a starter next season.
Additionally, he will also find it harder to secure a sizable role for himself, because the Browns usually deploy two tight ends in their starting lineup. With the arrival of rookie receiver Anthony Schwartz, along with having many offensive weapons on the team, Higgins will definitely have an uphill climb to make a case for himself to remain a starter in 2021.
Linebacker Sione Takitaki has always been eyed as a possible candidate to serve as one of the young cornerstones for the Browns ever since he was drafted back in 2019. Though he isn’t as athletic compared to the other linebackers in the league, he has still been able to effectively produce for the team thus far.
After having two solid seasons with the team, Takitaki remains caught in the thick of tough competition since more talent was acquired to solidify the Browns’ defense in recent years.
As of this moment, his fellow 2019 draftee, Mack Wilson, has already been showing significant improvements on the field, especially in this year’s training camp. A tenured linebacker, Malcolm Smith, is also looking to have a valuable role with the team as he tries to lead the rest of the defense with his veteran experience.
Aside from those two, Takitaki will also be competing with a Browns newcomer, Anthony Walker Jr., along with rookie Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who has impressed in preseason games thus far. Not to mention that the former BYU talent is also nursing a hamstring injury which may eventually slow him down heading into the start of the new season.
If Sione Takitaki remains to be sidelined prior to their 2021 campaign, his chances of securing a starting spot will certainly be slimmer than ever.