Training camp is generally an optimistic and hopeful time of year.
Teams get together (some for the first time) and begin building on-field chemistry and rapport.
Not so much so for the Browns.
They enter training camp with several unresolved questions.
The paramount question is also unfortunately at the paramount position: how much time will quarterback Deshaun Watson miss?
But the Browns got even worse news as training camp opens.
And once again, it comes on the offensive side of the ball.
Rookie receiver David Bell will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Bell was placed on the list as a result of foot issues that prevented the rookie from passing his physical.
It’s a tough break for the Browns in an offseason maligned by ongoing self-inflicted controversy.
Bell figured to be a major factor in Cleveland’s offense.
And these offseason workouts are a critical part of accomplishing that goal.
Up to this point, there has been nothing but great things to come out of Bell’s workouts.
#Browns rookie WR David Bell is one of a small group of players who will begin camp on active/PUP. His foot injury is not serious and he should begin practicing soon
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) July 22, 2022
The receiver was lauded for his route-running and exceptional hands and expected to compete to fill Jarvis Landry’s old role with the team.
Now, the door is open for names like Jakeem Grant to step into the position.
Tack on Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz to that list, though both have tended to be more vertical threats than slot receivers so far into their careers.
The Browns’ receiving corps was already lacking in top-end talent outside of Amari Cooper.
And Bell’s injury only highlights a lack of exciting depth at the position.
Now, Bell will have to hit the ground running even harder when he does come back healthy.
The learning curve for Bell will necessarily be steep, but he’s shown enough talent in the offseason to warrant patience.
Fortunately, Bell isn’t banished to the PUP list for eternity (or six weeks, per the NFL’s rules).
Since this is just preseason training, Bell is free to rejoin the team as soon as he passes his physical.
On the downside, a foot injury can run the gamut.
Perhaps it’s just mild swelling, which could go down in a matter of days.
Or perhaps it’s something more serious that will require extended time away from the team.
Fortunately, Browns Insider Mary Kay Cabot reports that Bell’s foot situation isn’t too serious and he should see the field in short order.
Either way, it’s not a great start to Bell’s tenure in Cleveland.
With Rookies reporting soon for training camp the one I’ll have my eye on the most is WR David Bell. The sure handed receiver will quickly become a favorite of QB Deshaun Watson and could be WR2 by the end of the season #Browns. pic.twitter.com/N6cjD7L87Z
— Tyler Johnson (@T_johnson_TJ) July 20, 2022
If the rookie does miss extended time, expect the Browns to give a few veteran receivers a look.
As it stands, names like Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders are still available via free agency.
And, of course, Odell Beckham, Jr.
Don’t get your hopes up on that one, though.
Fans will just have to wait and see when Bell is healthy enough to return to action.