The Cleveland Browns will begin training camp without one of their top targets at wide receiver.
Rookie David Bell, the Browns’ third-round selection out of Purdue University in this year’s NFL Draft, recently suffered a foot injury. The franchise subsequently placed the wideout on the active/physically unable to perform list.
Though the specific details of Bell’s foot issue were not immediately available, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported on Friday, July 22, that the Browns are optimistic that the injury won’t threaten his availability for the regular season.
“If all goes as hoped, Bell will be back on the practice field in a couple of weeks,” Cabot wrote.
Bell was scheduled to report to training camp today, along with the rest of the franchise’s rookie additions and its quarterback group. Camp officially begins for the entire roster on Wednesday, July 27.
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Bell Could Start Season as Browns’ No. 2 Wide Receiver
Bell’s injury appears to be only a minor setback, but any health issues in the wide receiver room will be magnified due to Cleveland’s lack of experience at the position.
Per the Browns’ depth chart, Bell is projected as one of three starters at wideout alongside four-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper, acquired via a trade with the Dallas Cowboys in March, and third-year pass catcher Donovan Peoples-Jones.
In her report Friday, Cabot billed Bell as the likely No. 2 wideout already when she noted that the silver lining of his apparently manageable injury is that it will afford Peoples-Jones and fourth wide receiver Anthony Schwartz more reps next to Cooper with the first-team offense.
Browns’ Offense Still a Question Mark as Training Camp Nears
What precisely the Browns’ offense will look like come the start of the regular season remains an open question, as starting quarterback Deshaun Watson awaits a ruling on a possible suspension that could sideline him for up to a full year.
Cleveland worked out multiple quarterbacks on Thursday, ultimately signing Josh Rosen to a one-year deal as an insurance policy against a protracted punishment for Watson. Rosen most recently played for the Atlanta Falcons last season after he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. He is expected to serve in a supporting role behind interim starter Jacoby Brissett. The Browns also added Josh Dobbs, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, to the roster this offseason.
In much the same way that the quarterback position has run into concerns due to the uncertainty surrounding Watson, the foot injury to Bell should shine a similar light on the wide receiver group and potentially spur action on the part of the front office. The Browns are unlikely to remain unscathed at wideout moving through the season, which argues for taking a flier on one of the free agent wide receivers left on the market.
As of Friday, former Cleveland receiver Odell Beckham Jr., former Falcons great Julio Jones and Will Fuller — a deep threat and former teammate of Watson’s with the Houston Texans — all remain available.