Jan. 14, 2014
Cameron's Emergence is Big
By Fred Greetham
Browns beat reporter Fred Greetham will break down the Browns roster on a position-by-position basis, with the fourth part looking at the tight end position.
Cameron --- (6-5, 245, 25) -- In his third NFL season, Cameron had a breakout season with 80 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. He was second in the NFL among tight ends in receiving yardage only to Jimmy Graham. Cameron had only caught 26 passes in his first two seasons. Cameron was named to his first Pro Bowl and was second-team All-Pro.
Barnidge -- (6-5, 250, 28) -- Barnidge caught 13 passes for 127 yards, including two touchdowns. He had a 40-yard touchdown catch against the Patriots. Barnidge came to the Browns as an unrestricted free agent from the Panthers. He was used primarily as a blocking back.
Gray -- (6-4, 250, 24) -- Gray was claimed off waivers after the final cuts from the 49ers. Gray played in 12 games with two starts. He caught two passes for 8 yards and ran the ball six times from the 'wildcat' for 43 yards. Gray was a quarterback at Minnesota and definitely is very athletic with a lot of upside. He was used as the emergency quarterback.
Milton -- (6-4, 293, 23) -- Milton was claimed off of waivers from the Saints and was active for eight games. He did not catch any passes and was used primarily on special teams.
Smith -- (6-4, 270, 25) -- Smith was claimed off waivers from the Cowboys and was active for five games. He played on special teams and didn't catch any passes.
Summary: Cameron's breakout season bodes well for the future. He proved to be a playmaker for the offense. However, Cameron's production did fall off as the season went on as team's game planned to slow him down. Barnidge proved to be a solid backup tight end, but even he said he came into the NFL as a receiver and has been turned into more of a blocking tight end. The other three tight ends on the roster were added off of waivers at different times in the season as it seems the front office had a penchant for collecting tight ends.
Looking Ahead: The biggest concern going forward with Cameron is durability. Cameron missed games due to injury in each of his three seasons, including missing time due to concussions in the last two years. He just finished his first year as a full-time player and produced big-time numbers. He should only get better.
Barnidge was solid in the backup role, but the Browns need to develop another all-around tight end that can catch and block. Gray's athleticism is intriguing, but it's asking a lot for a player who never played a position other than quarterback until this season.
(Next up is a look at the offensive line)