Ohio (WCMH) — The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals reported to training camp Wednesday with the NFL season less than two months away.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and Browns defensive end Myles Garrett spoke with member of the media, which you can watch in the video player above.
Cleveland returns with one of the most impressive rosters on paper after making the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The Browns beat Pittsburgh 48-37 in the Wild Card round to give them their first playoff win since 1994 before losing to Kansas City in the Divisional round.
Cleveland’s notable returning starters on offense are quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb, offensive tackle Jedrick Wills and wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., who suffered a season-ending torn ACL injury in Week 7.
The Browns defense, which struggled during long stretches last season, has improved greatly thanks to a strong draft in which Cleveland picked cornerback Greg Newsome III and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The unit is led by defensive end Myles Garrett as well as Pro Bowl cornerback and former Ohio State Buckeye Denzel Ward.
Cleveland improved most in the secondary with the additions of John Johnson III and Troy Hill who played for the Los Angeles Rams — the NFL’s top-ranked defense last season. They also get back safety Grant Delpit and cornerback Greedy Williams who both suffered season-ending injuries in 2020.
The Browns also bolstered their defensive line adding Jadeveon Clowney, Takkarist McKinley, Ohio State’s Tommy Togiai and Malik Jackson.
The Bengals had a season to forget in 2020 starting 1-5-1 through seven games. Cincinnati hit their lowest point when Burrow tore his ACL and MCL in Week 10 against Washington in what felt like an inevitable result due to the Bengals’ horrendous play at offensive line.
Cincinnati only won four games last season, giving them the No. 5 pick in the NFL Draft. But instead of selecting an offensive lineman to better protect Burrow, Cincinnati opted to take LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase who played with Burrow when they won the National Championship in 2020.
The Bengals made another head-scratching decision to trade back in the second round to pick offensive lineman Jackson Carman who many experts ranked as a third to fourth-round caliber player. After drafting Chase, the Bengals selected five linemen with their next five picks.
Burrow told members of the media he’s ‘just about 100 percent’ recovered from his knee injury but will likely not play in the first two weeks of the preseason.
Notable returners on offense, other than Burrow, include running back Joe Mixon, wide receiver Tee Higgins, receiver Tyler Boyd and left tackle Jonah Williams. Despite not drafting a lineman with their first-round pick, Cincinnati did improve at right tackle with the addition of nine-year veteran Riley Reiff. Cincinnati’s biggest question remains the interior of its offensive line.
Meanwhile on defense, the Bengals ranked in the bottom third in points allowed, rushing yards allowed and points contributed by the defense (-142.2).
Cincinnati returns All-Pro safety Jessie Bates III, safety Von Bell and defensive end Sam Hubbard who signed a four-year, $40 million extension earlier this week. The Bengals also added a few key pieces on the defensive line in Larry Ogunjobi from Cleveland and Trey Hendrickson from New Orleans.
The Bengals biggest question mark is at linebacker. Akeem Davis-Gaither and Logan Wilson were both in their first year last season and played a total of 28 games but only started four combined. Both players are expected to be starters this season while the third expected starter, Germaine Pratt, is the most experienced of the three as he enters just his third season in the NFL.