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Tag Archives: Nate Burleson
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.”
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 most important thing about Saturday night’s game is obviously the play of the quarterbacks. How does Brian Hoyer’s body hold up for the time he is in there? Is he indeed 100% healthy? Can he put points on the board? How does Johnny Manziel handle the speed of the NFL game even if it is against the second team? Can he command the huddle and call the right plays? How much does Johnny run the football and can he take a hit or two from guys that are bigger, stronger, faster than the ones he played against in college?
These are all questions that hopefully the Browns will get answers to one way or another. It doesn’t seem right to think this way, but you almost hope one of the two guys falls flat on his face or bombs, so it will help make the decision easier and clearer. On the other hand, if both guys do well, then you’ve strengthened the QB position and it’s great in this league to have depth.
Other positions I’ll be watching closely:
WR – Who steps up and makes plays besides Josh Gordon? Will it be the veterans Miles Austin or Nate Burleson? Will Andrew Hawkins show why the Browns paid him a decent amount of money in free agency to come to Cleveland? Does somebody come out of know where and make a name for himself and get the coaches attention? Besides quarterback, the receiver position is my biggest concern with this football team.
RB – Ben Tate was a nice free agent pick up in the off season by Ray Farmer, especially for the price, but how does he handle being the feature back now and can he stay healthy? Also rookie Terrance West has been getting rave reviews for what he’s done in training camp, will that translate to the football field against an opponent that isn’t wearing the same colored jersey you do?
LB – Barkevious Mingo has had a great camp, but can he produce the same results on the field in an actual game? How much of an impact will the self-proclaimed best linebacker in the NFL, Karlos Dansby really make? Can Paul Kruger bounce back from being a big name free agent bust from last season and start earning his money and making plays on the field this year?
CB – Not sure of the injury situation with rookie #1 pick Justin Gilbert and whether or not he’ll play, but from the day he was drafted I expected him to be the starter opposite Joe Harden from day 1. He needs to be able to beat out Buster Skrine for this defense to be a better defense.
HC – How will first time ever head coach Mike Pettine do in his first game? Is the game plan good? How does he handle in game situations from time outs, to challenges to halftime adjustments?
These are all things I will be watching closely in the Browns first and all of their pre-season games, as they get ready for their regular season opener on September 7th at Pittsburgh.
BROWNS GM RAY FARMER and HC MIKE PETTINE TRANSCRIPT – RECAPPING DAY 2 INCLUDING JOSH GORDON and NATE BURLESON
Farmer: “First and foremost, thank to everyone for hanging around late tonight. I know there’s been a lot of shocking supposedly news that we’re not going to comment on in regards to (Browns WR) Josh Gordon. We’re not going to comment on our players’ health status and anyone that’s on this roster. If there are any other questions pertaining to the draft we’ll be happy to answer those questions and move forward.”
On not answering players’ health statuses:
Farmer: “I think the regards of any players’ status, with regards to their contract or their health, it’s a private matter. To that end, I would say that it doesn’t behoove anyone if the player isn’t going to miss any time from any games that may be played.”
On the report that the Browns staff knew about Josh Gordon’s possible suspension before the draft:
Farmer: “I opened the press conference with the idea that we’re not going to comment about anything that has to do with Josh Gordon or any status of our players, in regards to their health.”
On why the Browns are not commenting on the reports in regards to Gordon:
Farmer: “To the end that the league has really stated what we can say and what we cannot say. Until we have definitive clarity as to what those things are, we’re going to remain silent.”
On if the reports affected how the Browns drafted players:
Farmer: “The reason why we pick and how we pick is truly predicated on our process. We go through the board, and again to add some clarity and some insight as to how the structure is worked or oriented – we organize the players, we rank them, we stack them, we stick to it. We believe in – you do the work for a reason. You take the best players available. You establish your team by going through that process and making sure you draft the best guys and how you had them ordered of who were the best players in college football.”
On if the reports regarding Gordon put a damper on what was a big day for the Browns:
Farmer: “I think it still is a big day for the Browns. We picked up three good football players. We went into this draft, and we had an opportunity to acquire players, and we did just that. The first young man that we took (OL) Joel Bitonio, is going to help this football team tremendously, as well as (LB) Christian Kirksey, as well as (RB) Terrance West.”
On if he is concerned with the depth at wide receiver:
Farmer: “I’m not concerned with my depth at wide receiver.”
On why the Browns haven’t drafted a wide receiver:
Farmer: “At the time that we made our selections, we took the best player available for what we wanted to do. There were players available, we stuck with our board, as we looked at that board when it was our turn to select, we took the name that was the best name for us at that time.”
On why he is not concerned with the depth at wide receiver:
Farmer: “I’m not concerned with the depth at wide receiver because we play games in September, and right now there’s still plenty of opportunity for us to acquire players and to make things happen. Whether its trades, whether it’s drafting someone the next day, whether it’s players that get cut or we acquire somebody from the street. There’s always opportunities to acquire players. From our prospective, that where we’re focused on is using every opportunity to acquire players that become available.”
On what they saw in West:
Farmer: “We saw a young man that was strong. He was tough. He was physical, and he played like a Brown. He embodied those properties that we talked about before. Not to be a tall back, he’s a shorter back, but he’s a thick-framed kid over 220-pounds. He ran well. He caught the ball well. He was able to demonstrate he could take contact and stay on his feet. He was also light-footed enough to make people miss. There were plenty of good things to like about Terrance West.”
On if acquiring tough players in the draft has been an emphasis:
Pettine: “Yeah, we have a plan of how we’re going to build this team. We’re going to build it on character. We’re going to build it on toughness. I think what we’ve done so far in this draft embodies that, and that was important to us, not just to talk about it. You’re not going to stand in front of a room and say, ‘Hey, let’s get tougher.’ What you do is you get tough people in that room. As we’ve said all along, that’s football, a tough sport for tough people, and we feel for us to compete in this division and in the NFL that that’s the model we’re going to take.”
On Kirksey’s ability to play inside or outside linebacker:
Pettine: “That’s one thing we like about him is his position flexibility. We’re in the business of adding outstanding football players who fit the ‘play like a Brown’ attributes, and we’ve always been one in our system to really cherish a player that can play multiple spots. He can play the MIKE, play the WILL, play outside on the edge if he had to. He has some strong safety type attributes, which I think today’s linebacker is something you’re looking for given the athletic tight ends and the spread formations you’re getting.”
On if Kirksey fits the mold of what he said previously about wanting more speed instead of size:
Pettine: “I think that’s fair to say, that you’re always looking to improve your speed, defensively, I think at certain positions that you’re willing to sacrifice speed because I also think that adding strength and adding bulk is among the easier things to do once a player gets to this level. It’s hard to get them significantly faster. We’d rather take the better athlete, the faster guy, and trust in our strength program and what we do nutritionally and in the training room that we can add that.”
On how RB Terrance West complements RB Ben Tate:
Pettine: “I think it will be a good mix. I think it’s very difficult in this league, especially in this division and especially in our mindset; we’re going to run the football to put all of that on one player. I think when you have guys who can play off of each other and feed the hot hand and have a guy go for a series or two and replace him, what’s nice about both of these guys is that they can both catch the ball so there’s no issue with this guy can’t be on the field on third down.”
On if it’s easier to project a running back from a small school’s NFL capabilities than other positions:
Farmer: “I wouldn’t say it’s easier, but I do think when you watch the tape, there are several opportunities that you can watch a guy like Terrance West play against bigger competition. I think that helps the projection some. When you get a guy that has opportunities, I’ll give the easiest example of Khalil Mack, how big of a prospect would Khalil Mack have been had he not played Ohio State and had that type of game in that situation? I think that when you see guys have these opportunities against the bigger schools and they demonstrate how they belong in that environment, it does make a little bit of the projection easier.”
On the need on the offensive line and where OL Joel Bitonio will play:
Pettine: “The great thing about Joel is that he has position versatility. He’s a guy we think can play all five spots. We’ll get him here and see what the best spot is for him. It’s likely at guard, but when you talk about Play Like a Brown and what we’re looking for in an offensive lineman, he truly embodies that. We wanted to upgrade our toughness, our nastiness and that’s one of the things that jumps off the tape when he plays.”
On comparing West to other running backs:
Farmer: “That’s interesting. I will tell you that the best attributes about this kid, again, he’s a shorter, more compact-frame kid. I don’t want to say he’s quite as short as… It’s kind of interesting because I actually piece guys together in my head. I don’t just give a simple comparison. He’s kind of like a Maurice Jones-Drew build, but he’s actually a slightly taller kid, but he’s got the same kind of thick-ish frame when you look at him – big legs, barrel-chested kind of kid – but he’s a nifty-footed kid. People are going to say it sounds like an egregious comparison, but he kind of has the (former NFL RB) Jerome Bettis nifty-footed guy kind of feel to him when you watch him play.”
On where running backs were selected in 2014 was a result of the class or the position and how the position is currently valued:
Farmer: “That’s a really interesting question because when you look at that fact, a lot of running backs didn’t go. After they did start to go, there’s always a thing that we call “runs”. They started to make a run on running backs, and even the linebacker crew, there were no real linebackers selected after the first two, as far as guys who were considered inside guys that play stacked and off the ball. There was a wide gap, I guess, in the league’s view of the top two guys in (Ravens LB) C.J. Mosley and (Steelers LB) Ryan Shazier that went early and then you through a lull of those guys not going. It could speak to the fact that people thought this draft was deeper in other areas and people wanted to make sure they capitalized on those other players sooner, but eventually like you saw here recently, there was a big push in both the linebackers and the running backs to try to catch those numbers up to some of the league averages that usually exist.”
On if the Browns hesitated to trade in the third round, considering the number of picks it left for Rounds 4-7:
Farmer: “I don’t think there was any hesitation. I think that at the end of the day, the object of the draft is to get good football players. In a general context, the closer you are to the front, supposedly, the better chance you have at the talent that is available. From our perspective, we took an opportunity to get a young man that we thought really was going to go soon. Getting back into the back end of the third round, we had an inkling that other teams were going to try to circle the wagons on (RB Terrance West) when it got to the compensatory picks and so we felt that we needed to jump back in before he disappeared and we had a chance to select him at 106.”
On when the Browns may have clarity on Gordon’s status:
Farmer: “Again, I don’t know the answer to that question so whenever we do have clarity, we will definitely express our sentiments then.”
On explaining why the team hasn’t shared more information on Burleson or Gordon:
Farmer: “I would tell folks that until I have something to tell them, there’s nothing I can say.”
On not providing more information on Burleson’s reported injury status:
Farmer: “I will tell you that in the context of what we’re doing, Nate Burleson is not going to miss any games for our football team. Does it really matter if he was here or if he was missing or if he decided not to come to the offseason program at all? The two are somewhat in my mind really not that big of a deal of where the guy is going to be in training camp. Is he going to be available to play and practice? If those things are legitimate, then I don’t know if they really matter for us to get into what the details are.”
On if Burleson will participate in mandatory minicamp:
Farmer: “Again, we’re not going to comment on players and what their statuses are.”
Pettine: “The league doesn’t require us to discuss injuries at this point.”
On spending time with Manziel today:
Pettine: “I did. He had an excellent visit.”
On learning about Manziel today:
Pettine: “To me, it was more about starting to go in-depth with some of the football stuff. We had a pretty good feel for what he knew football-wise, but I think we were more interested in Johnny the person during that process. I didn’t personally get much of a chance to speak football with him yet, the coaches did. In the brief amount of time I got with him today, we got into some of the stuff that he was taught, some of the stuff that he enjoys doing football-wise.”
On a concern with media, particularly entertainment media, scrutinizing Manziel as a face of the franchise, specifically referencing the TMZ photos with champagne:
Farmer: “Anytime you have a celebrity or you’re popular, there’s going to be people following you and giving you unwanted attention. I think there are definitely opportunities. The average person has had champagne or has drunk out of a bottle, but they just don’t get pictures taken of them. The fact that he is that and he knows what his celebrity is or his star, he’s going to have to learn to understand that people are going to follow him and take pictures of him. He’ll get there. I said this the other day: He’s had a steep learning curve with regard to how quickly popularity and fame can affect someone’s life. When a guy does things and the pictures surface, it’s a part of a process. To say that he’s completely the face of the franchise, I don’t know if that’s the case at this moment.”
On having a large gap between picks tomorrow and if he’s still looking to trade more picks:
Farmer: “Assuming someone would want to come and make a trade, we would definitely listen. If opportunities present themselves and there’s a trade that makes sense for us, then we’ll definitely look to potentially move a pick, move around or do the things we need to do to acquire the players that are available.”
On if this draft is deep enough to find starters through three rounds, and if Kirksey could be part of the rotation this year:
Pettine: “Our draft philosophy as we’ve already stated is to bring players in to compete. We’re not going to have players walk into jobs. We are confident that he will come in and be able to compete and be in a position to potentially win a starting job. We’re also very confident in the linebackers that we have here. The tremendous value where we had him rated on the board and where we took him, it was an outstanding pick for us. We’re looking forward to getting him here and seeing him go to work.”
On trades and watching the draft unfold during the past 24 hours:
Farmer: “It’s been painful. When you watch guys that you really want go, it’s not good to watch them go. There’s a reason you do all the work. There’s a part of being a scout that you start to endear yourself to certain guys. You like certain players. You want certain guys. Sometimes you watch guys go, and you (sighing noise) and you get the devastated look and the feel of ‘I wanted that one,’ but, there’s nothing you can do. All of the boards are different. All boards are completely different than everyone else’s in the league. To that end, I don’t know where the other 32 teams have a specific player ranked. As he comes up on our board, and we think there’s value there, we take him. That’s the same with everyone else. They look at the guy and they look at their board, and as those players fit their needs, their wants or desires, they make the selection. Oftentimes, there are names that get called that you were hoping, ‘Man I hope this guy lasts until this point or I hope he makes it to this point in the draft,’ and there are just opportunities where other teams valued that player higher than you did.”
On positiions of need that the the Browns may address tomorrow:
Farmer: “Getting a good football player and making sure that he’s the right type of guy for us. Again, the No. 1 thing I think we’ve been focused on is letting players come to us, staying focused on and relying on what we know about each guy, relying about what we know about each team, working the phones so that we understand what’s happening in and around that position that we may have to take a player and then making those adjustments. Like I said previously with Terrance West, we didn’t think he’d make it to 106. We wanted the player so we did what we had to go to make sure that we got the player. Those are the things that I think really come into play. When there’s an opportunity to make the selection or to put yourself in a position to make a selection, then you take those liberties and those chances when they’re available.”
On if it is optimal to acquire certain position players during the draft compared to others:
Farmer: “I think as we said, we’re going to stay focused on the board and let the players come to us as they come.”
On comments about doing backflips when DB Justin Gilbert was selected:
Pettine: “That wasn’t literal that was a metaphor (laughter).”
On the experience of watching the board and staying with the process:
Pettine: “The staff has done a good job, and I’ve tried to do it a little more subtle than the staff has as far as letting them know what positions we’d like. Ray’s been great in taking the input from the scouts, set the board and then adjusted it based on what the coaches saw. I think that this was an important year for that to happen given that it’s first year of new systems, where are idea of a SAM linebacker and a safety and an offensive guard and what those look like in our system. There are some subtle differences from team to team, and it was important for Ray. He was great with it to listen and take in that input and adjust the grades accordingly, and I think that he kind of leaned toward the coaches some in certain situations in knowing that we knew best what we were looking for system-wise. If you would’ve said to me that after two days of the draft that we’d be sitting with the guys that we got and the value that we got for those picks, I would’ve done two mental backflips instead of one.”
On Kirksey’s leadership traits:
Pettine: “Those were the things that we were looking for, a two year captain. Those are the things that you are looking for, the intangible stuff. I know that it’s a cliché and we use over and over again, but we truly look for those attributes. He’s passionate about football he loves football and that comes across very clearly when you talk to him, and that’s one of the reasons why we were thrilled to turn the card in.”
On evaluating the Bronws’ draft process as it related to trades and selecting Manziel:
Farmer: “We managed that situation very carefully. From the time that we made our selection of Justin, we had our eyes on multiple players. Johnny was in a bundle of guys, and as we went through that process, you know a team’s needs or you think you know a team’s needs and kind of where they may go or where they may strike. We worked through that process diligently of making phone calls, monitoring time on the clock and who could potentially trade, and it just really came down to just a final phone call with the Eagles to where we finally got that deal done. We monitored that situation from one point in the draft until we picked him.”
On being confident that there is currently a No. 2 receiver on the roster:
Farmer: “I do. I feel like there are multiple receivers that can have a chance to contribute to our team. In that I think that those guys that are here, as well as guys that may not be here, will have that chance. Yes, I do feel that we have a guy on the roster that can definitely contribute in that starting capacity.”