The Browns haven't signed a veteran free-agent wide receiver, and they didn't draft a wideout until Round Six (South Florida's Carlton Mitchell), but they have made some key changes at tight end, signing ex-Patriots TE Benjamin Watson in March and adding former Eagles TE Alex Smith this week.
Watson, a complementary receiver in New England, has field-stretching speed, and it's hard to see him not emerging as the club's top tight end. "He puts pressure on the safeties, which is something you are always looking for from the tight end position," Browns head coach Eric Mangini told Cleveland reporters in March.
Smith, who made 43 starts for the Buccaneers from 2005-08 before being traded to New England last April, adds experience. The Patriots cut Smith in September, and the Eagles signed him before the start of the season. Smith played in all 16 games for Philadelphia in 2009 and started five games, but he caught just three passes.
The Browns lacked a reliable pass catcher at tight end for much of last season and tried a variety of options, looking for a spark at the position, but they enter the 2010 campaign with a stronger hand. At wideout, though, they have largely stood pat and are counting on young receivers like Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie, both rookies a season ago, to keep improving.
"I think there's a good group of young players all competing for time," Mangini, speaking to Cleveland reporters, said of the WR corps at the club's rookie minicamp. "We may at some point add somebody else. We haven't ruled that out at all, but I am excited about the group of guys we have coming back. Seeing the young guys in their second year, you'd like to think that they make a jump. Typically, those guys do from the first to second year."
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