Cleveland seeking fresh start after lackluster season
BEREA — Right guard Wyatt Teller firmly established himself as one of the NFL’s top offensive linemen last season, earning his first Pro Bowl selection.
The Cleveland Browns rewarded him with a $56.8 million, four-year contract extension.
Accolades and big money only go so far, though, when your primary goal is a winning a championship.
“Last year, I thought we were going to go to the Super Bowl,” Teller said Friday at training camp. “I guess that’s the joke the Browns (and their fans) always have, but I really thought we were a dominating team and we just couldn’t stay healthy. So, I’m not focused on anything else right now but game one.”
Cleveland is one week away from its preseason opener at Jacksonville, which its players view as a fresh start following a disheartening 8-9 campaign. Teller was a rock throughout, being named second-team All-NFL for the second year in a row.
The offense has a different look compared to last season. Quarterback Baker Mayfield, wide receiver Jarvis Landry and center JC Tretter are gone, and quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver Amari Cooper are among the new arrivals.
Teller, who is 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, has eagerly filled the leadership void on the unit.
“Let’s get healthy, let’s run the ball and let’s kick some butt,” the four-year veteran said. “Whoever is at quarterback, we have a talented offensive line and an amazing running back group, so let’s use them. Let’s do what we do best.
“It gets people’s eyes in the backfield, then you have five guys running off the ball, trying to smash you in the face.”
Cleveland led the NFL with a 5.09-yard average per carry last season, and Nick Chubb finished second in the league in rushing yards. All-purpose back Kareem Hunt and emerging threat D’Ernest Johnson complete the three-headed monster at the position.
Three-time Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio, left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., right tackle Jack Conklin and center Nick Harris join Teller on an all-returning starting line. Chris Hubbard again provides depth.
“When you look at last year, I don’t think there was one time that our starting five finished a game together,” Teller said. “That’s not good. There was always someone hurt. We’ve just got to stay healthy and play, and I think we’ll be all right.”
NOTES: Coach Kevin Stefanski said he hasn’t decided how to divide the playing time at quarterback against the Jaguars. … The outdoor portion of practice ended after 75 minutes when thunderstorms rolled in, forcing fans to quickly exit the suburban training facility. The session continued inside the fieldhouse. … Harris left practice after being poked in the eye and was replaced by C Ethan Pocic. … WR Anthony Schwartz (left knee strain) and rookie WR David Bell (foot) remain sidelined, but Stefanski said both are “really, really close” to returning.