CLEVELAND - The last-man-standing theory is the operative mode of action for Browns tight end Jordan Cameron.
It's now time for him to show he can be a competent starter and not a depth, special-teams player.
In recent years, the Browns have parted ways with tight ends Evan Moore (currently out of football), Benjamin Watson (New Orleans) and Alex Smith (Cincinnati). That leaves Cameron, a fourth-round pick in 2011, as the likely starter, backed up by free-agent additions Kellen Davis and Gary Barnidge.
The perfect grade for Cameron's play the last two seasons is incomplete. He was inactive eight games of his rookie season as he languished behind Watson and Smith on the depth chart. He appeared in 14 games with eight starts last season, missing the final two games with concussion symptoms.
Cameron's two-year numbers are 26 receptions for 259 yards and one touchdown. Minor injuries in addition to the concussion have forced him to miss considerable practice time.
"As a young player you learn your body and how it works, and when you get injured you learn how to take care of it," Cameron said. "Working with this training staff helps a lot. As a young player I had time during the offseason to get my hips right, my groin right and my hamstring right. It's been beneficial the last two months."
Like every other offensive player, Cameron is adjusting to a change of philosophy. He's stood out at times during training camp and in a preseason win over St. Louis. He had one reception on a crossing route that he turned into a 30-yard gain.
"I'm not anywhere where I need to be," Cameron said. "As long as I progress every day and take to these details that they're teaching and preaching. They know what they're doing. They're proven play callers. It helps us as players when you know what the coaches put in and tell you is going to work."
The biggest change at the tight end position in the NFL over a period of years has been an increase in its role in the passing game. Match them against linebackers and the better ones will win most one-on-one battles. Against safeties they'll win the physical confrontation.
It's easy to forget that tight ends were once considered a sixth lineman. Blocking was the most important assignment.
Coach Rob Chudzinski hasn't forgotten that when assessing Cameron's development.
"Jordan has improved quite a bit," Chudzinski said. "I think he's getting a better understanding and is more comfortable with the offense. He's a guy that has potential. He has playmaking ability. He's improved as a run blocker. He'll continue to develop."
Cameron is a relative neophyte to the position. He was recruited to BYU on a basketball scholarship but decided to transfer to USC to play football. He had to play one year at Ventura Junior College (2007) before moving to Southern California.
A two-year backup for the Trojans, Cameron appeared in 23 games. He had 16 receptions for 129 yards and one touchdown as a senior and no receptions in 2008 and 2009.
Cameron walked on to USC's basketball team in the 2008-09 season and appeared in three games. Some of the skills he developed from basketball might help his development in football.
"I wasn't that good (at basketball)," Cameron joked. "Body control is the main thing. There's a lot of jumping and moving. It helps you move in spaces well and even boxing out a defender on the goal line or red zone. It helps using your body to create mismatches."
That's what the Browns envision from Cameron.