The Cleveland Browns are getting set to start up their preseason slate, which is really the Mike Priefer show. Not only were the Browns among the worst in the NFL with their special teams last year under Amos Jones, prompting the Browns to bring in Priefer. Preseason serves as an opportunity for those units to make a first impression. Additionally, a number of position battles on the roster are going to be determined by special teams play.
The kicking game will receive the overwhelming majority of the attention, because it's the most visible and the shakiest part currently, but it's about coverage units and impacting kicks and punts.
The change in coaching is to be a benefit as Amos Jones was one of the league's worst and evidence of just how few coaches were willing to work for Hue Jackson in his final year. Priefer's track record with special teams units is far better, but by virtue of the Browns having more talent on their team, the hope is they'll also have better depth, which should provide better special teams play.
And given the amount of focus Freddie Kitchens puts on special teams, it's not out of the question the Browns will keep a position player that's there entirely due to special teams. Tavierre Thomas stands out as a possibility on that end.
The last element here is that if the Browns have more talent and like what they are getting from the players on their special teams, they might not churn the bottom of their roster as much in hopes of keeping a group together, so they can get better and better.
Being able to bring in guys and getting them up to speed quickly on special teams is life in the NFL, but if that's more in response to need due to injury as opposed to trying to find talent, that could help the unit perform better.
With so few positions to be sorted out among starters, the Browns don't need their ones to play in preseason nearly as much as they have in past years. Certainly, they want them to get ready for the season and be clicking as they begin the year, but that will provide more opportunities for the guys competing for back end roster spots and these special teams units to compete for those final spots.
Special teams were a major problem for the Browns last year, ultimately costing them a few games. If they're at least average this year or even good, it should be one more area that helps the Browns in the standings this year as they try to secure their first playoff berth since 2002.