they all look good in shorts . they will go to camp along with 88 others which leads me to wonder how much roster turnover can we expect before the opener ?
Plain Dealer and cleveland.com Browns coverage includes Mary Kay Cabot's story that rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden is ready to start competing for the starting quarterback job; her Browns Insider; Bill Livingston's column on the Browns rookies; Cabot's report on some Browns roster moves; the PD Sports Insider, the twice-weekly half-hour video with Plain Dealer reporters and occasional guests talking about Cleveland's teams; Dennis Manoloff's interview on 92.3 The Fan, talking mostly about Brandon Weeden and the Browns' rookie minicamp held over the past weekend.
Among the players who enjoyed impressive rookie minicamps was Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
No surprise there. The Browns traded up a spot with the Minnesota Vikings to select Richardson with the third overall pick in the NFL draft.
Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal writes that Richardson's goal is to become one of the league's all-time greatest backs. Ulrich writes, quoting Richardson:
“It’s just a goal I’ve always had,” Richardson said Sunday as the Browns’ three-day rookie minicamp wrapped up. “It’s always been a dream. I told [people] last year I wanted to be one of the greatest players to ever play college football. I wanted people to always remember my name and, hopefully, I left a great legacy in college football.
“But when I get done with this game in the NFL, hopefully they can say that this guy’s gotta be compared to Richardson. Now they compare folks to [former St. Louis Rams running back] Marshall Faulk to be one of the greatest. To be one of the best rookies when this class comes in, that’s just a high expectation for me, and I’m gonna have to reach much higher. When it comes down to it, the sky is the limit for my game and for me getting better.”
Browns story links
Predicting the 2012 Browns 53-man roster -- a slideshow. (Bleacher Report)
A list of 10 top rookie vs. veteran position competitions includes a Browns matchup. (By John Clayton, ESPN.com)
Rookie minicamp reunited former college teammates on the field: Alabama's Trent Richardson and Brad Smelley and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Josh Cooper. (By Matt Florjancic, clevelandbrowns.com)
The Browns hope Josh Cooper, signed as an undrafted free agent, can help fill the slot receiver spot. (By Steve Doerschuk, Canton Repository)
Trent Richardson demonstrates his abilities. (By Steve DiMatteo, Dawg Pound Daily)
The potential loss of defensive tackle Phil Taylor to injury can be somewhat offset thanks to general manager Tom Heckert's foresight in the draft. (By Sam Ingro, National Football Authority)
The Browns wrap up rookie camp. (By Fred Greetham, Scout.com's Orange and Brown Report)
Ohio State offensive lineman Jeff - also known as J.B. - Shugarts, signed by the Browns as an undrafted free agent, is happy to remain in Ohio. (By Matt Florjancic, clevelandbrowns.com)
Reasons the Browns can win eight games in 2012. (By Michael Fitzpatrick, for the Bleacher Report)
I wanted to talk to Brad McCoy, the high school coach who changed pro football Monday, but he didn't return a message I left for him.
The last time McCoy spoke to Cleveland reporters, the NFL, the mightiest and most profitable league in American professional sports, changed its medical procedures. It was the only official response they could have made to conform to the imperatives of safety and empathy in a sport in which bravery, no matter how admired, seldom trumps savagery, no matter how deplored, in the end-game.
Brad McCoy had a big megaphone when he told The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot that his son, Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, never should have gone back into a nationally televised Dec. 8 game at Pittsburgh after receiving a bone-jarring, helmet-to-helmet hit from the Steelers' James Harrison late in the game.
It cost Harrison $73,529, his pay for the one week he was suspended. It cost the NFL a lot of credibility in its campaign to convince fans and former players that it is truly vigilant about player safety.
The feeling here is that the Browns were victims of a "perfect storm," made up of many factors, including a glut of injuries to other players that was occupying the attention of team doctors and trainers, the inability of anyone with access to replays of the hit to intercede in the decision-making about McCoy's fitness, and the pressure of the game- and play-clocks. No Browns medical personnel even saw the hit, not even on the replay board.
The play itself also occurred in something of a gray area. It came after Colt McCoy had taken several steps as he scrambled. He appeared intent on running the ball, forfeiting rules protection afforded him in the pocket, before throwing a pass at the last instant.
Still, the examination procedure was deeply flawed. The Browns dispute the argument, advanced by me among others, that McCoy would have received better medical attention had he been a higher-profile quarterback, such as Drew Brees or Tom Brady. Perhaps a better assessment should be that everyone involved was stressed by the rash of injuries and that effective examination was difficult under the sideline procedures in effect at the time. McCoy, at any rate, did not begin to show concussion-like symptoms until the game was over.
Only 12 days later, the NFL announced a simple, proactive addition to its "concussion protocol." Certified athletic trainers, seated in the press box with access to instant replay, can require further examination of an injured player if they are concerned about his fitness to return to the game. Video replay will be available to medical personnel on the sidelines, too.
No league makes such a substantive change regarding player safety during the season unless it has to. But the public perception of the NFL's safeguards keeps worsening -- with the recent suicide of the great linebacker Junior Seau and the undetermined role head injuries might have had in it; with probable future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner dissuading his own son from playing the game; with broken men, their bodies and minds in ruins, suing the league for overlooking or downplaying the damage they suffered.
It took Dale Earnhardt dying in a racing crash for NASCAR to institute head-and-neck safety restraints. It took a 13-year-old girl getting killed by a flying puck in Columbus for the NHL to string up protective nets. Brad McCoy should be praised as a catalyst for clear and necessary change.
At the same time, he, like most whistle-blowers, rankled the powers that be. Maybe the Browns will let the whole thing go, but they probably consider the elder McCoy a complication his struggling son does not need. The line between pushiness and prudence is not a fine one in pro sports.
In the book, "Growing Up Colt," the elder McCoy preaches his most basic parenting principle: "Prepare your children for the path, not the path for your children." Yet Brad McCoy was the quarterbacks coach for his son in middle school, even though he was also the town's high school coach at the time. He coached Colt throughout high school. He, in fact, spent considerable time smoothing the path.
I can think of worse parenting sins.
Recently, Andre Iguodala, a shaky free throw shooter who swished two foul shots in the final seconds to win an NBA playoff series for Philadelphia, said a teammate told him to think of something he loved before stepping to the line. "So I thought of my son," Iguodala said.
I thought of Brad McCoy when I heard that. It's a compliment.
If you’re a fan of a perennially rebuilding NFL team, there is no better time than early May.
Rookie camps are to some fan bases what Super Bowls are to others – at least depending on the specific franchise’s misery index ranking. In the respective cases of the Colts, Redskins and Browns, there is a considerable reason why fan interest has soared in recent days.
Most reports from rookie camp focus primarily on the positives of a newly drafted player. The practices themselves – shrunken thanks to the league’s new collective bargaining agreement – offer only glimpses of players framed in a gym class environment. As such, every rookie quarterback appears confident, strong-armed and capable of becoming the proverbial face of the franchise.
Of course, veteran fans of such teams – those who draft the likes of JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen know better. At the least, early May offers a sort of temporal sense of halcyon days that could be. At this moment, Andrew Luck is still light years ahead compared to a typical rookie swimming in a thousand-page playbook, RG3 is freakishly fast against fifth-string talent and Brandon Weeden’s still fresh arm can accommodate “cannon” descriptors.
However, the volume of hope attached to each team’s new crop of rookies far outweighs the reality of struggles that will soon ensue. For each of April’s first-round quarterbacks – Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Weeden – will likely begin the 2012 season as starters. Others – such as Brock Osweiler, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins and even Nick Foles and Ryan Lindley – could only be a snap away from seeing real action.
Yet, the recent league trend has seen practically all rookie quarterbacks at least become capable starters, while a few have achieved tremendous success. All four of 2011’s first round quarterbacks – Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbard and Christian Ponder – saw action, while second-round pick Andy Dalton and fifth-rounder T.J. Yates faced off in a January playoff game. Previous years saw rookies Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco become both entrenched NFL starting quarterbacks and faces of their respective franchises.
It’s obvious that the days of rookie quarterbacks “sitting and learning” have expired. With the intense pressure exerted on both coaching staffs and front offices, rookie quarterbacks now enter the league armed with instant expectations. And while there is no sure individual formula for rookie success, at least there are some team criteria which help to lessen the burden.
1. Run the BallSpeedy wide receivers and flashy offensive designs are great, but a rookie quarterback’s best friend is a capable running game. Both Ryan and Flacco broke the taboo of a rookie quarterback being able to achieve success thanks to their team’s respective rushing attacks. (Or, if you wanted to go back to 2004, Ben Roethlisberger proved to be the ultimate example.)
Ryan was backed by the Falcons generating over 2,400 rushing yards – with Michael Turner gaining just under 1,700. Flacco’s Ravens put up similar numbers, with the trio of Le’Ron McClain, Willis McGahee and Ray Rice combining for 2,207 yards. Similarly, Sanchez’s 2009 rookie season – in which he threw 12 touchdowns against 20 interceptions – featured a Jets’ rushing attack that combined for over 2,220 yards.
The trend continues with Bradford and veteran Stephen Jackson in 2010, Dalton’s Bengals in 2011 who totaled 1,778 rushing yards and Newton’s Panthers, who compiled 2,408 (706 coming from Newton himself.) While both Ponder and Gabbard could rely on strong rushing attacks (2,318 and 1,970 yards), other internal weaknesses plagued each starter. Finally, in 2009, Stafford and Freeman led offenses that didn’t feature a 1,000 yard rusher. Perhaps coincidentally, the Lions and Bucs combined for 5 total wins – although each team was undergoing a major rebuilding project.
Of this year’s likely rookie starters (Luck, RG3, Tannehill and Weeden), none will have the benefit of an already strong rushing attack. None of the four teams that will likely start a rookie QB in 2012 managed more than 2,000 total rushing yards in 2011 and both Indianapolis (1,594) and Cleveland (1,531) were among the league’s worst units. However, the Browns at least feature what should be an upgrade in Alabama’s Trent Richardson. The other teams’ top 2011 rushers (Donald Brown, Reggie Bush and Roy Helu) may not offer much in the way of support.
2. I Thee WedHow else can you characterize the relationship between coach and rookie quarterback? In most respects, a new coach is “married” to his rookie quarterback – at least in the sense that future success or failure will be exclusively tied to this relationship. Perhaps no better evidence can be found than in again looking at the same ten quarterbacks over the past few years. For the most part, the quarterbacks who played for stable head coaches achieved more success than those who were in more transient situations.
Both Ryan and Flacco were the centerpieces of Mike Smith and John Harbaugh’s first seasons as head coaches. Each team went to the playoffs – similar to Sanchez’s 2009 Jets (Rex Ryan). All three coaches enjoyed the support – and relative flexibility – of being first-time leaders. In 2011, Dalton’s Bengals were under the helm of veteran coach Marvin Lewis – who had signed a contract extension prior to the start of the season. Newton’s Panthers – led by first-year coach Ron Rivera – enjoyed a similar comfort despite the team’s 6-10 finish. A case could even be made for Bradford in 2010 under Steve Spagnuolo, who at the time was still basking in a relative honeymoon period.
Of the other quarterbacks on the list, Stafford and Campbell were part of rookie coaching staffs that had assumed huge renovation projects. Perhaps the same could be said for Ponder and Vikings’ coach Leslie Frazier and not for Gabbard and the recently deposed Jack Del Rio. Clearly, there is something to be said for both organizational and coaching stability. In 2012, both the Colts (Chuck Pagano) and Dolphins (Joe Philbin) feature new head coaches, while the Browns’ Pat Shurmur and Redskins’ Mike Shanahan return for their second seasons.
3. Keep It SimpleWhile both the Falcons and Ravens’ coaching staffs strictly adhered to this concept in 2008 with Ryan and Flacco, last season saw a revolutionary leap in how to acclimate a rookie quarterback to the NFL. The Bengals’ coaching staff offered Dalton a skeleton offense after the lockout ended last August, before gradually opening up the playbook as the season progressed. The results were impressive as Dalton never appeared rattled throughout his rookie campaign.
In Carolina, a similar approach was used with Newton, a player who basically ran a high school offense at Auburn. The Panthers’ offense – already a vertical attack helmed by Rob Chudzinski – started simple and finished in a similar manner. Newton only had to make a few reads and was able to rely on both his strong arm and athletic feet to feel out big plays. The results were some 5,000 combined yards of offense and 35 total touchdowns and not a confused and frustrated rookie quarterback.
Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but both Dalton and Newton play for defensive-minded head coaches – similar to Ryan and Flacco in 2008, Sanchez in 2009 and Bradford in 2010. In 2012, only Luck benefits from this – what could be a complete anomaly – although he will soon run veteran coordinator Bruce Arians’ offense. Griffin, Tannehill and Weeden not only inherit offensive-minded head coaches, but also head coaches who like to call their own plays.
Maybe this is another reason why hope tends to peak in May.
While the Steelers have hoped to sign Wallace to a long-term deal, there has been no progress on that front. Schefter reiterated on NFL Live Tuesday that it “may be awhile” before the Steelers see Wallace at club headquarters, and Wallace won’t sign the tender “until he absolutely has to.”
The time for teams to poach restricted free agents has passed, but the Steelers now have to worry about Wallace missing OTA and minicamp action as they install a revised offense under new coordinator Todd Haley.
The Steelers have several upcoming offseason activities, and it doesn’t sound like Wallace is likely to attend any of them.
The time for teams to poach restricted free agents has passed,So there is no way anybody can swing a deal for Wallace now ? i know they wouldnt trade directly with the Browns but maybe a three team deal could be worked out ?.
Schwartz is going to be clutch in fixing the right side of that line....He can handle it. We have the personel to really be dynamic this year...Night and day from what we saw last season...It's all about tempering expectations, TD. I am right there with you in liking what I have seen and heard from Brandon Weedon. Yet, let's not forget he is a rookie regardless and will have growing pains. I have little doubt he will overcome them in the long haul, but with this schedule he could be the second coming of Joe Montana and it wouldn't make a huge difference. It's time to bring this man along at a nice steady pace. Weedon could be the answer for the next five to ten years if too much isn't heaped on him right away. Luckily he seems to have a great attitude after things didn't work out for him in the minors. I don't think burn-out will be any kind of factor. He seems legitimately enthusiastic to be in the NFL and a Brown. He looks like a true leader that this team will grow visually and verbally confident behind. Sounds like he is digesting the new system as well as anyone could be expected this early. He has a good head on his shoulders and is by all accounts very football savy. Again though it is time to groom a franchise quarterback for real this time. There is a lot of football to be done between now and December, so let's cut the guy a little slack in May. And as far as Schwartz goes.....Oh yeah! Nothing like a line who can not only stay upright but push the defense backwards. I like that pick a lot. The fact that he played with Mack can only be a good thing. A huge wall of a line to fend off pass rushers in greatly in the best interests of developing Weedon. Glad to know the Cleveland front office finally got the memo that half a OL does not a scoring drive make.
How can we NOT be excited???
So there is no way anybody can swing a deal for Wallace now ? i know they wouldnt trade directly with the Browns but maybe a three team deal could be worked out ?.bluez, the only way Wallace can play for another team at this point is if he signs a regular contract...The Steelers can't even trade him if he signs the tender.
Looking like a starting quarterback
Before rookie minicamp this past weekend, Shurmur said rookie Brandon Weeden must earn the starting quarterback job. But as Shurmur reflected on the recent minicamp while speaking to reporters following his speaking engagement, he said Weeden is making a strong case for himself in his pursuit of the starting job.
“There’s no question I think he’s headed in the right direction,” Shurmur said. “He showed us in the first minicamp that he can throw the ball in this league, and now we’ll get a chance to see him interact with the team, the full squad, and see how he does.”
Shurmur stopped short of revealing whether Weeden would take snaps with the first-team offense May 22 when organized team activities begin. But it certainly seems like a safe bet that Weeden will.
“I’ll hold onto that till we talk about that [as a team and as a coaching staff],” Shurmur said. “But he’s gonna be able to compete with those guys to be the starter. So how we choose to do that really is a method, and we’ll just see how it works.”
Shurmur was much more direct in his praise of Weeden’s performance during rookie minicamp.
“I think he’s extremely accurate,” he said. “His strong arm really showed up in this minicamp. There’s something natural about his play. He hadn’t really thrown to these receivers before and to be able to throw somewhat precise routes and be very accurate, that was good to see.
“He throws a very, very -- wow -- it’s a pretty ball. It’s easy for the receivers to catch, and some of the guys he was working with for the first time really performed extremely well because there’s synergy there when you get good quarterback play.”
A member of the audience asked Shurmur to compare Colt McCoy and Weeden.
“Colt McCoy is a gritty guy,” Shurmur said. “I think Colt McCoy is a fine football player and can play quarterback in this league. We think Brandon Weeden can do the same thing. Obviously one guy’s a little bit taller than the other. … They’re both guys that I want on this team and I want to see them compete. The best one will play when we play Philadelphia in September.”
So what will happen to Seneca Wallace?
“I think there’s a case to be made that Seneca, Colt and Brandon are all [on the roster] together,” Shurmur said. “We’ll see. I think that’s yet to be determined. But we’re gonna just watch them all compete and interact, and we’ll see what happens.”
Reliable running back
Shurmur touted running back Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, as a key piece to the team’s future.
“Trent Richardson is 5-9 ½, but he is a full-grown man,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s gonna be a tremendous player here for a very long time. He’s a quarterback’s best friend. When things get a little dicey, you just turn around and hand it to him, and I really believe he’s gonna be a big part of what we do.
“We could tell from the meeting room interaction to the field that he learns extremely well. All that’s in his favor, and I think this weekend helped him.”
New back in mix
“He actually came in on a workout basis,” Shurmur said. “It was just a weekend tryout, and [he] impressed us enough where we signed him to our 90-man roster. So he’ll be coming to training camp with us. He did a terrific job and we feel like he’s got a chance to contribute.”
Shurmur said Adonis filled the vacancy left on the roster by Ohio State linebacker Andrew Sweat, who signed with the Browns as an undrafted free agent but decided not to pursue an NFL career.
Phil Taylor update
Shurmur said defensive tackle Phil Taylor will have surgery Wednesday to repair the left pectoral muscle he tore while lifting weights last week.
Third-round pick John Hughes is a candidate to replace Taylor in the starting lineup.
“Unfortunately with what happened to Phil Taylor, John’s gonna have to step it up and be a quicker part of what we do,” Shurmur said. … “We’re not gonna plug him in. He’s gonna have to get in there and compete with the other defensive tackles to win that spot. If he ends up being the guy, he’s obviously not as big as Phil. But I really believe he can create pass rush inside and play well against the run.”
There’s also a chance the Browns could acquire a veteran defensive lineman.
“We’ll continue to look at a veteran really at any position,” he said. “And we’ll know about how it all fits once we can get into the OTAs, and they’re all out there working together.”
Rookie linebackers James-Michael Johnson, a fourth-round pick, and Emmanuel Acho, a sixth-round selection, could receive a chance to crack the starting lineup right away if starting strongside linebacker Scott Fujita’s three-game suspension is upheld. The NFL punished Fujita for his alleged role in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal. Fujita has denied involvement and reserved the right to appeal the suspension.
“I do think they did some things in the rookie minicamp that would make you say these guys got a chance,” Shurmur said of Johnson and Acho. … “I wouldn’t say one’s ahead of the other right now.”
Time to step up
This could be a make-or-break year for Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, who was plagued by injuries and didn’t produce much last season.
“It’s time for him to show us what we know he can do,” Shurmur said. “I think last year he was hampered by injury, which can be tough for a receiver. What I’ve seen thus far in the offseason, it looks like he’s gonna be ready to go.”
Reunion in cards?
Shurmur was asked if the Browns will re-sign left guard Eric Steinbach, who was cut in March after he missed last season with a back injury that required surgery. The Browns and Steinbach couldn’t agree on a restructured contract, leading to his release.
“There’s a chance [he could be brought back],” Shurmur said. “I know he’s out in that free-agent world right now trying to find a home. I don’t know the specifics right now, but I have a strong appreciation for Eric and what he did prior to being here last year. Unfortunately last year, he sustained his injury. So maybe. I couldn’t say yes at this point.”
Tight ends ready
Benjamin Watson suffered three concussions last year and ended the season on injured reserve, but Shurmur said Watson is poised to come back.
“He’s fine,” Shurmur said. “He looks great. He’s ready to go.”
Shurmur expects a significant jump in production from Jordan Cameron, who appeared in eight games last season as a rookie.
“The guy that looks way different is Jordan Cameron,” Shurmur said. “Oh, gosh -- the size -- and he’s had a great offseason. He’s a guy that hadn’t played much football, so I think he’ll make a big improvement this year.”
Shurmur indicated the Browns will wear brown jerseys for at least some of their home games this year. Last season, they wore white jerseys and white pants at home.
“Yeah, there’s a chance we can wear the brown [jerseys] this year,” he said.
Lots of laughs
Shurmur always seems to let loose at this event, showing the luncheon club his sense of humor for the second year in a row. He got big laughs from the following jokes:
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