If Browns head coach Mike Pettine needed to name a starting tight end right now, Gary Barnidge would be the guy.
Cleveland signed Rob Housler this offseason to fill the void created by Jordan Cameron's departure, but the player who hauled in 13 catches for 156 yards appears to have a leg up on the competition, according to Pettine.
"Gary has done a nice job," Pettine said via the Northeast Ohio Media Group. "We play with multiple tight ends. Right now, if we had to put one out there, it would be Gary. Gary is the ultimate professional. He comes out and does his job, prepares well, very rarely has a mental mistake. I think he has a lot better hands than people give him credit for."
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Judging from this tweet from Pro Football Focus, Pettine may be right about Barnidge's hands, but this could be more of an indictment of Housler, who has never quite lived up to his potential. Housler was drafted a full round ahead of Cameron in 2011, but he fell off the map last season in Arizona with only nine catches for 129 yards. He averaged 42 receptions for 435 yards the previous two seasons with the Cardinals.
Housler is still the best pass-catching threat at tight end for the Browns, but if he can't beat out Barnidge for the No. 1 job, his career may be in trouble.