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Monthly Archives: August 2014
On the 53-man roster and the wide receiving corps after cuts:
“I think, as it is with all 32 teams, the roster’s actually pretty fluid still at this point. We went out and had practice today and practiced with the guys that are out here, but you never know how it’s going to shake out. We’ll see what happens.”
On former Browns QB Rex Grossman being cut and if Grossman helped him while he was with the team:
“Yeah, it was good while he was here. I think, like I said, just like it is with the other 31 teams the rosters are fluid and it’s a business decision. For me, he was useful when he was here because he was a guy that I could talk to who’s played in the system. You never know how things are going to work out, and we’ll see what happens.”
On if Grossman will be back with the Browns:
“Your guess is as good as mine.”
On how he feels now that Pittsburgh week is here:
“It’s awesome. I think the biggest thing for me is now you really get to focus on your opponent. You focus on, you zero in on the things that you need to do to win. It’s great. Obviously, just like everybody else, we get a few extra days to prepare. It’s good to get back out here. Like I said, for the most part the roster’s set, so you know who you’re going to be playing with. It’s good to get back out and start practicing with a real purpose in mind.”
On how long he has been watching Pittsburgh film:
“For a long time, not only here but when I was in New England, it seemed like we played them every year. Obviously, I was here last year. I was there for a few weeks, so I ran a scout team against their defense. I don’t know how much I can recall from that, but I’ve been familiar with Pittsburgh since I’ve been in the league just because – like I mentioned – when I was in New England I think we played them almost every year I was there. Then, last year I was hurt, but I was still coming in and watching film knowing that I’d be back again this year. You get a feel for how they are defensively. Really I think if you watch them you know exactly what you’re going to get. They’re going to be solid. The guys are going to be in the right place. They have some schemes where you really have to be ready for them or else they’re going to get you. We know what we’re going to face, and we have to be at our best to be able to beat these guys.”
On if he visualized being in this position when he was younger:
“I didn’t visualize being on the other side of the rivalry the first time I was a part of it, but I know what this means to this city. I know what it means to our fans. Like I said all along, for me, I’m one of the few that get a chance to actually impact it. Like I said, it’s good we have a few extra days to prepare for them because they are a solid defense and it’s going to take our best.”
On how long it takes to learn a new offense:
“I think it’s always evolving. You’re always going to keep continuing to learn and learn and to improve and learn the little nuances of an offense. I think with every year things become more repetitive and easier to go through, but it’s always a work in progress. I think if you don’t…If you say after six weeks or one season, ‘I’ve learned the offense and that’s it. We’re going to stay where we’re at,’ I think you’ll always limit yourself. I think as long as I’m playing in this offense, we’re always going to try to evolve and get better. I think that’s the only way you can approach it.”
On if he knew that Pittsburgh wanted him back, specifically former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians:
“It was kind of conveyed. It wasn’t Bruce. It was (former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken) Whisenhunt at the time and those guys. It had been kind of conveyed to me, ‘let’s see what happens. There’s a chance you could be back.’ Yeah.”
On if there was a technicality to keep him from the Steelers:
“Oh yeah, you’re talking about that. I don’t know. I really don’t know.”
On if his agent knew:
“No, I was restricted, so there’s not much you can do when you’re restricted.”
On the technicality:
“They found it. Yeah, no doubt. I don’t know for what reason.”
On the way that things turned out:
“Maybe I could be on the other side. You never know. I’m glad I’m here. That’s for sure.”
On how he feels about the offense heading into the game against the Steelers:
“I feel really good. I think, like I said, now you have a single purpose that you’re working towards. You’re going to be working on plays that you’re going to be running in the game. You’re not just working on concepts that are your core concepts. Now you can really zone in on the game plan and the preparation. Like I said, it was good to get back out here today. We did some stuff in preparation for Pittsburgh, but also did some stuff that we needed to work on for situational purposes. I think when you get to this point now you really get to zero in on a game plan, preparation, those types of things. I think that’s only going to help us.”
On whether he’s seen a switch in focus on the team preparing for the regular season:
“Yeah, I think that this day is always, no matter where you are, the first day back when the regular season starts you can tell that there’s a little more pep in people’s step a little more sense of urgency and attention to detail and that’s what we need. It was good to get back out here today.”
On being part of the Pittsburgh Steelers for a season:
“I was just grateful to have a job. As bitter as this rivalry is and being a Cleveland boy, I will always have a place in my heart for Pittsburgh because they gave me a job at a time when no one else would. Like Tony said, a couple of things fall different ways. You never know how it would’ve turned out. I couldn’t be (happier) to be a Cleveland Brown but I think that there will always be a spot in my heart for those guys because they gave me a job when 31 other teams wouldn’t. I always be thankful for that but at the same time, I think I’m on the right side of this rivalry now.”
On whether it’s a concern to him in having a WR corps that is shorter than average:
“No, not to me at all. I have confidence in all of those guys. I think that you guys could see Thursday night (WR Taylor) Gabriel got out there, I got a few passes to (WR Andrew) Hawkins. Those guys, what they lack in height, they make up in quickness and being able to get open in man coverage. Like I said, I have confidence in all of those guys and I actually played with (WR LaRon Byrd). He was in Arizona. We kind of crossed paths so I have a familiarity with him, too. It will be good to get him in here and get to working with him. Like I said, what those guys lack in stature they make up with in heart, smartness and toughness – those types of things and I’ll take that over physical attributes any day.”
On his evaluation of WR LaRon Byrd:
“I was only there (for) three weeks. I remember him being tall and athletic. I’ll leave it to that, then you can ask me again in a few weeks.”
On his mentality changing due to becoming the starting quarterback:
“I don’t think that I ever had the mentality where I hope that I have a job, I always felt that I needed to go out there and earn the job and I feel like I’m always trying to do that. You’re always trying to prove that you’re the guy for the job and I think that if you take that mentality with you you’re only going to challenge yourself to get better on a daily basis. There’s always in this league, regardless of situation, there’s always somebody trying to take your job whether it’s through the draft, free agency, whatever it might be and I think that as long as you can put that pressure on yourself to make yourself a better player.”
On now having an opponent to worry about every week of the season:
“Yeah, sure. I’m not saying that I come out here every day thinking that ‘I’m going to lose my job.’ I honestly feel more secure today than I ever have. I just think that it’s always good to have that chip on your shoulder and know that you’re always trying to prove people wrong and prove yourself right.”
On what makes him think that the offense will be better than it was during the preseason:
“I think that we did do some good things during the preseason and to cap (it) off with – I know it was just one drive but to come out of that game, watch the film and realize even as good of a drive that is was, it could have been better. When you realize that, all you can go is up and we did good things. We’re in position to get better week after week.”
On what a 1-0 start means to a team’s season:
“I think that obviously, it’s a great thing to go 1-0. I think that the way we look at it is that it’s 16-one-week seasons and if you’re 0-0 you try to be 1-0. If you win that game you try to be 2-0, if you lose that game you try and be 1-1. I think that in this league you have to take it one week at a time and, like you said, to start off the season with a win, especially a division win, would be huge. It does get your confidence going and not saying that whole season is over if you don’t win but it is important to get things going on the right foot.”
On the release of veteran WR Nate Burleson:
“Yeah, it’s a business and those decisions were out of our control. Obviously, Nate was a great veteran presence and we wish him the best of luck in whatever he’s going on to. But we all know what this business is about and this time of year is always the most difficult because there is only so many spots. You start off with so many guys and you have to get down. I’ve been there before and at some point it happens to everyone. It happened to (Broncos QB Peyton Manning) and he’s one of the best of all time. It’s just the business that we’re in. You wish people well and go from there.
Official Press Release From The Cleveland Browns on Roster Moves – 8-30-14
The team terminated the contracts of four veteran players including 12-year veteran, wide receiver Nate Burleson; linebackers Zac Diles and Jamal Westerman; and running back Chris Ogbonnaya.
Cornerback Isaiah Trufant was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury that forced him to miss three of the Browns’ four preseason games.
There were 15 players waived. The list includes: defensive backs Josh Aubrey and Leon McFadden, defensive linemen Calvin Barnett, Jacobbi McDaniel and Justin Staples; offensive linemen Reid Fragel, Garrett Gilkey, Donald Hawkins, Alex Parsons and Abasi Salimu; quarterback Connor Shaw; tight end/fullback MarQueis Gray; running back Dion Lewis; tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi; and wide receiver Willie Snead.
The Browns 53-man roster includes:
Quarterbacks (3): Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel, Rex Grossman; running backs (3) : Ben Tate, Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell, fullback (1): Ray Agnew; wide receivers (5): Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins, Travis Benjamin, Taylor Gabriel, Charles Johnson; tight ends (3): Jordan Cameron, Gary Barnidge, Jim Dray; offensive linemen (8): Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, John Greco, Mitchell Schwartz, Joel Bitonio, Paul McQuistan, Martin Wallace, Karim Barton.
Defensive linemen (7): Desmond Bryant, Armonty Bryant, John Hughes, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, Phil Taylor, Billy Winn, Ahtyba Rubin; linebackers (8): Karlos Dansby, Barkevious Mingo, Craig Robertson, Paul Kruger, Jabaal Sheard, Chris Kirksey, Tank Carder; Eric Martin; defensive backs (12): Joe Haden, Buster Skrine, Justin Gilbert, Aaron Berry, Pierre Desir, Robert Nelson, K’Waun Williams, Donte Whitner, Tashaun Gipson, Jim Leonhard, Johnson Bademosi, Jordan Poyer.
Kicker (1): Billy Cundiff; punter (1): Spencer Lanning; long snapper (1): Christian Yount.
Among the more notable aspects of the Browns’ 53-man roster are:
Twelve defensive backs. The Browns are exceptionally heavy at this position, but that’s not a surprise given the high premium that coach Mike Pettine places on the secondary in a defense that emphasizes pressure and press-man coverage.
“It’s a big part of the system, just with how it’s become such a passing league,” Pettine said. “You need to carry a high number of DBs, especially corners.”
Besides first-round draft pick Justin Gilbert and fourth-rounder Pierre Desir, two rookie free agents — K’Waun Williams and Robert Nelson — and veteran newcomer Aaron Berry join veterans Joe Haden, Buster Skrine at cornerback. The safeties include two newcomers, Donte Whitner and Jim Leonhard, along with Tashaun Gipson, Johnson Bademosi, and Jordan Poyer.
Five wide receivers. After the NFL announced its season-long suspension of Josh Gordon last Wednesday, there has been plenty of discussion about how the Browns would address this spot. One thing they aren’t doing, at least for now, is going long here.
They cut veteran Nate Burleson, who missed the first three season games of the preseason with an injured hamstring, was cut.
“Nate is a true professional and it was a difficult decision for us.” Pettine said. “Ultimately, his availability was a concern with all the time he missed and we liked what we saw in the other players at that position.”
Undrafted free agent Taylor Gabriel made the roster, along with Charles Johnson, who was acquired last year despite recovering from a major knee injury.
“Gabriel’s an explosive athlete, he’s very strong for his size (5-foot-8 and 172 pounds),” Pettine said. “He has the ability to get off the line against press, which a lot of times you don’t find with smaller guys. A lot of times, you have to put them off the ball or have him on the move (before the snap).”
The top two receivers are Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins, along with incumbent return specialist Travis Benjamin, who made a strong comeback from a torn ACL he suffered last season.
Rex Grossman is the third quarterback behind Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel. Grossman, a 12-year NFL veteran, has the best understanding of the offense of coordinator Kyle Shanahan, for whom he played when Shanahan worked in the same capacity in Washington. Grossman demonstrated as much during his preseason debut with the Browns last Thursday night.
“Rex is a veteran, he’s played in this system, he’s good for the (other) guys in the (quarterback) room, and he also showed that he can still throw it,” Pettine said. “And that’s the most important thing. He can still play.”
A true fullback made the roster, something the Browns haven’t had since Lawrence Vickers’ final season on the team in 2010. Undrafted free agent Ray Agnew, a traditional fullback in every sense, is going to bring plenty of blocking muscle to help open holes for Ben Tate and Terrance West.
“Ray was another guy that I’d put in that category with Gabriel in the sense that if you watched how he handled himself, you’d never know he was a rookie, especially an undrafted one,” Pettine said. “But he fits our commitment to wanting to run the football, he fits that classic mold where he brings an air of toughness.”
It would be easy to assume that undrafted free agent Isiah Crowell forced his way onto the roster with his 102-yard rushing performance — including a 48-yard touchdown — against the Bears that easily ranked as the most dynamic showing of any player on the team this summer. However, the Browns used a larger body of work in deciding to keep Crowell over incumbents Chris Ogbonnaya and Dion Lewis, who returned from a season-ending broken leg last year and at one point seemingly had secured the third spot behind Tate and West.
“It wasn’t something where he was on the outside looking in and, all of a sudden, he had that big night,” Pettine said. “He had flashed at practice and he was a guy that we knew had that type of ability. But you still have to show it in games, and we had kind of earmarked (the Bears’) game as one where we were going to feature him a little bit more. And, to his credit, he went out and performed.”
Although the Browns made 21 transactions to reach the 53-man roster limit by Saturday’s deadline, that does not necessarily mean they are finished with making moves.
“I think the 53 is always going to be fluid, especially at the start of the season.” Pettine said. “Ray and his staff have done an outstanding job of keeping tabs on the league and I’m confident they will continue to make any moves that are necessary to give us the best possible 53.”
BIG 5 MAJOR CONFERENCES
SEC – ALABAMA over GEORGIA
PAC 12 – OREGON over UCLA
BIG TEN – MICHIGAN ST. over WISCONSIN
(I have Ohio State finishing (10-2) on the year and playing in the Cotton Bowl.)
ACC – FLORIDA ST. over NORTH CAROLINA
BIG 12 – BAYLOR
NCAA COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF
FLORIDA ST. over MICHIGAN ST.
OREGON over ALABAMA
FLORIDA ST. over OREGON
HOYER AND MANZIEL WITH TOUCHDOWN DRIVES AGAINST BEARS SECOND TEAM DEFENSE IN FIRST HALF OF FINAL PRESEASON GAME
If Brian Hoyer couldn’t engineer a touchdown drive with the Browns first team offense against the Bears second team defense, there really would have been something to worry about. But that wasn’t the case.
Hoyer played one series and led the Browns first team “O” on a 13 play – 85 yard drive culminating with a Ben Tate 1 yard run in the first quarter. Hoyer was 6 of 8 throwing the ball for 69 yards in his best performance of this preseason. He was done after that drive, avoiding injury and leaving with some confidence.
Browns head coach Mike Pettine liked what he saw on Hoyer’s touchdown drive, “He was sharp, made some good throws, made the right reads. It was good to see our guys make some plays down the field.”
Johnny Manziel also led the Browns offense on a touchdown drive in the second quarter. It was a 5 play- 80 yard drive, ending with a 1 yard TD pass from Manziel to tight end Jim Dray.
Manziel finished the first half 4 of 11 throwing the ball for 64 yards with the touchdown pass and no picks. “Johnny JamBoogie” also rushed for 30 yards on two carries.
Here’s what head coach Mike Pettine thought of Manziel’s first half performance, “Falls into the category of Johnny being Johnny. A couple of those plays were no, no, no, yes – but that’s what he does. That, to me, is what he brings to the table. He just needs to get more comfortable in his reads, take the easy throws that are there. He’s certainly shown why he has the reputation that he does.”
For the game Manziel, who was up and down throwing the football, completed 6 of 17 passes for 89 yards and the 1 touchdown strike. He was not intercepted and finished the game with 55 yards rushing.
So even if it was against the Bears second and third team defenses, it was good to see both quarterbacks put touchdowns on the board. Will that translate to TD’s against Pittsburgh’s first team defense in the regular season opener?
We’ll find out on September 7th at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh at 1pm, but none the less, some progress was made by the Browns offense, even if it was the Varsity against the JV’s.
The Browns ended up winning the game, their first of the preseason, 33-13 over the Bears.
WHAT’S THE BIGGER LOSS – BRAXTON MILLER FOR THE OHIO STATE BUCKEYES OR JOSH GORDON FOR THE CLEVELAND BROWNS?
Braxton Miller was a Heisman Trophy candidate and was expected to lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title and into the first ever NCAA College Football Playoff to battle for a National Championship. He has been lost for the year with a shoulder injury that he had surgery on Tuesday, August 26th.
Miller accounted for 3,162 yards of total offense and 36 touchdowns for the Buckeyes last season.
He threw for 2,094 yards with 24 TD’s and 7 INT’s.
He rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Miller is being replaced by redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett who has never taken a snap in a regular season game at Ohio State. Redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones could also see some time at quarterback. Jones has completed 1 pass in his career in Columbus for 3 yards, but has rushed for 128 yards and 1 score.
Josh Gordon was coming off a record setting year in which he led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,646 yards in only 14 games and he scored 9 touchdowns. Gordon’s yards per catch average was 18.9. Gordon has been suspended for the entire year for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Browns G.M. Ray Farmer passed on drafting highly rated wide receiver Sammy Watkins with the 4th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and then proceed not to draft a receiver at all in the 7 round draft in a year when the receiver position was considered very deep.
The Browns did sign free agent wide out Andrew Hawkins from the Bengals, but he’s not even close to the player Gordon is, and he’s not even considered a #1 receiver. Hawkins totaled only 12 catches for 199 yards last season in Cincinnati and failed to get into the end zone.
The Browns are banking on free agent veterans Miles Austin and Nate Burleson to step in and fill the void left by Gordon’s suspension. Austin and Burleson combined to reach the end zone 1 time last year and both are known more for their injuries lately, than for what they’ve done on the football field. Austin only played in 11 games for the Cowboys last season and Burleson suited up for just 9 games for the Lions last year. Neither have helped the team or quarterbacks Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel so far in the preseason, can you really count on them in the regular season?
The NFL Players Associated released a statement on behalf of Josh Gordon:
“I’d like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans. I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn’t exercise better discretion and judgment in my case. I would like to sincerely thank the people who have been incredibly supportive of me during this challenging time, including my family, my agent, my union, my legal team, and the Cleveland Browns staff.”
Statement from Browns General Manager Ray Farmer on Josh Gordon Suspension
“While we may have strong feelings on the timing and the process of this decision, we have also consistently communicated that we will focus on what we can control in our day to day approach. Right now that is preparing our team for the 2014 season and at the same time, supporting Josh however we are able under NFL guidelines during his suspension.”
Statement from Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine on Josh Gordon Suspension
“We will continue to support Josh and we understand that there is accountability for one’s actions. Our job and that of the team is to focus on what we can control. Our philosophy in building this team and the mentality we’re establishing is that we’re going to have to overcome challenges and situations throughout the course of a season. We’ll continue to be relentless in our approach, in how we work and focus on our goal of returning winning football to Cleveland.”