Much was made out of the loss of cornerback Daven Holly to a knee injury during a recent OTA workout. But for those of you who think the Browns have suddenly gone from AFC North favorite and a Super Bowl contender to a playoff long-shot, you’d best think again.
Holly, while definitely a valuable commodity, is certainly not irreplaceable. I don’t remember him playing in the Pro Bowl last season, or even being considered for that honor.
Holly is a nice player who has done a better-than-expected job both as a starter when occasionally forced into that role due to injuries, and as a situational back.
But Holly’s importance has been magnified due in large part to the fact the Browns are so thin at cornerback and that the team’s two best players at that spot, Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald, have even less experience than Holly. You’ve got to remember that Holly was signed by Browns general manager in August of 2006 after being waived by his second team in nine months.
Holly was originally drafted by the 49ers in the seventh round, 215th overall, in 2005. He was waived on Sept.3, 2005, claimed via waivers by the Bears on Sept. 4, 2005 and was then waived by the Bears on June 15, 2006 after seeing limited action in just three games.
Maybe the two teams that waived him, and all the others who passed on him during the first six rounds of the 2005 draft, didn’t envision his true potential.
Make no mistake, Holly performed better than expected the past two seasons for the Browns and has developed into a dependable situation defender. But it’s wrong for anyone to think that the 2008 season is lost because the team lost a player at a position that was already very slim with talent.
To my way of thinking, it won’t require trading a future first or second round draft pick, or even a quarterback, to fill Holly’s role. In fact, veteran free agent Terry Cousin, who was just signed by the Browns, could end up contributing just as much as what had been expected from Holly.
I see both Wright and McDonald developing into solid corners now that they have a year of experience to go along with what should be a much-improved pass rush. They might never make us forget Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield, but both youngsters showed flashes of brilliance at times in 2007.
Wright and McDonald both have a lot more potential than Holly, who definitely deserves credit for getting the most out of his potential. But to my way of thinking, it’s not like the Browns will need to find a Pro Bowler to do what was expected from Holly this season.
Of far greater concern to me is the potential absence of offensive lineman Ryan Tucker, who suffered a broken hip early on in the OTA workouts. He recently underwent surgery and should be ready to play again in September.
Even though the Browns have a great deal more depth on the offensive line than they do at cornerback, and even though Tucker is expected to be ready for the regular-season opener against the Cowboys, I still see his injury as being very costly in that the offensive line will not have the opportunity to work together during the preseason.
With a rugged early-season schedule, including games against the Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens to start the year, the Browns will need to have their offense running in high gear from the get-go.
It’s good to hear that Kellen Winslow Jr., says he has no plans to be a training camp holdout, despite his desire to renegotiate his contract. Winslow, coming off yet another knee operation, decided not to participate in the OTA workouts.
In hindsight, it’s too bad Holly and Tucker didn’t follow his lead.