Fans say, ‘Welcome back’

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 31, 2011 – 7:10 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

This scene said it all.

At midnight Sunday, three Browns fans from Virginia were having a campout in Berea. They were in sleeping bags, just outside the South gate leading to the fields at the team’s practice facility.

The first training-camp workout open to the public wouldn’t begin for eight hours and 45 minutes, but they were determined to be inside before the rest of the crowd. Suffice it to say, they achieved their goal.

“That’s hard core,” a Berea police officer said with a smile. “Woof!”

Woof, indeed.

On July 25, the NFL returned to business when the league and the NFLPA reached a new collective bargaining agreement. On Saturday, the Browns had their first camp practice.

But as far as nearly 3,000 fans were concerned, their favorite team returned on Sunday, when they had the chance to eyeball the 2011 edition of the Browns.

“We have got such a tremendous fan base and for them to be able to enjoy football again, I think, is fantastic,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “When the fans are close like this, you can hear some of the things they’re saying and the oohs and ahhs when they see their favorite player run by. For our fans to be close to our players again is a great thing for Cleveland.”

The activity was far from intense. Players were in helmets, but wore no pads so there was none of the heavy contact that will happen beginning Monday morning, when the Browns stage their first full-pads practice of the summer.

That didn’t matter to the fans that were there. All that mattered to them was that the Browns were back.

Rookie receiver Greg Little, for one, was impressed with the turnout on a picture-perfect day that offered any number of other outdoor options.

“That’s tremendous, to actually have this type of showing at a practice,” Little said. “It kind of gives you that game vibe, because you want to step up and produce for the fans that are here.”

They came in all shapes, sizes, and ages. One mom was seen holding her infant daughter, who was decked in Browns attire …  right down to the orange bow in her hair.

As the session came to a close, one man in the crowd shouted to running back Peyton Hillis: “Welcome back, Peyton! We missed you, buddy.”

>>Tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Follow me on Twitter @viccarucci


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The ‘Daily’ lesson

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 30, 2011 – 4:56 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here’s what we learned from Friday night’s edition of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford”:

–Gil Haskell, the Browns’ senior advisor to president Mike Holmgren, is bullish on the chances for success of the West Coast offense succeeding here. “Forty-niners, Super Bowl,” Haskell said. “Green Bay, Super Bowl. Philadelphia, lost in the Super Bowl. Tampa Bay, same offense, Super Bowl. The system works. So now, we’re putting that same system in and we just have to have patience to make sure we stay with it – and we won’t vary from it at all – but we just have to make the players understand (success) is coming.”

–Ace returner Joshua Cribbs sees no reason why he shouldn’t be as highly regarded as a wide receiver as he is returning kicks. “Definitely so,” Cribbs said. “I want to be seen as a threat when I’m on the football field. I don’t want to have to be looked at as, ‘Oh, he’s a wide receiver now; he’s not that much of a threat.’ I am a threat. I’m on the football field, I can possibly get that football. And when I get the football, I feel like, ‘You’d better strap your helmet on tight. Make sure your chinstrap’s buckled up because I’m going to take you for a ride.’”

–Given that the Browns are making a full-time shift to the West Coast offense and are converting from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense, Haskell said it was important to guard against overwhelming the players on that side of the ball with too much of the playbook too soon.  “You’ve got a young quarterback (Colt McCoy) (and) you’ve got a veteran quarterback behind him (Seneca Wallace) who knows the offense very well, and then on defense you’ve got a whole new system,” Haskell said. “So you’ve got to say, ‘What do I need for the first preseason game? What do I have Colt call in the first preseason game? I’ve got to practice those plays.’ I can’t say, ‘I’m practicing for the first league game,’ because I’ve got to build up to that. We’re starting from scratch here. We can’t overload (the players) and we can’t overload the coaches.”

–Cribbs makes no attempt to hide his unhappiness with offseason rules changes the NFL made that figure to make it more difficult for game-breaking returns. However, he said, “I’m a football player, it’s my job, I have to go out there regardless of the rules, regardless of the changes, and play football.”

–Pro Bowl offensive tackle Joe Thomas said the Browns’ new offense has “totally different terminology” from what he has known during his previous four seasons in Cleveland. “But I still think football’s football,” he said. “Almost every team out there is running a lot of the same plays. It’s just learning the new words for the different plays, formations, the calls. But for the most part, it’s the same plays.”

–“Winning ballgames” is, according to Cribbs, the constant message that the new coaching staff has hammered into the heads of Browns players. “Nothing else matters but winning ballgames,” Cribbs said. “It seems like every time we have a discussion, they end the sentence with, ‘because we’ve got to win ballgames.’ So I’m talking to coaches, and say, ‘Hey, what did you eat for breakfast?’ (and they answer) ‘I had toast and (cereal) … and we’ve got to win ballgames.’”

–Thomas on the second-year version of McCoy: “I think he’s walking in the building this year as the leader, as the starting quarterback, whereas last year he was kind of walking in as a third-round pick. He was the third quarterback. Everybody thought he was going to have a couple of years before he’d get his chance to play. It was kind of like he was walking in a library and he just wanted to learn. He wasn’t going to try to steal the thunder from anybody else. Being thrust into that position was a little bit tough in the middle of the year, but he did great and now he’s walking in with that leadership role. And I’m excited to see what he does.”

–Cribbs on McCoy: “He’s a very different guy because that confidence is there — knowing that ‘I’ve done it before. I was thrown into the fire and I didn’t falter.’”

–With a healthy Montario Hardesty and other contributors, Thomas said he expects “more success” than last season from the Browns’ running game. “Because Peyton (Hillis) was kind of our one-trick pony last year (after Hardesty suffered a knee injury) and we kind of relied on him,” Thomas said. “But having a couple of other guys to ease the load and give a little change of pace is going to be really nice.”

>>Tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Follow me on Twitter @viccarucci


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Cribbs, Thomas visit Daily

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 29, 2011 – 5:52 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

As we close out the first week of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford,” it’s time to focus on the opening of training camp this weekend.

Ace returner Joshua Cribbs will stop by our studio in Berea to discuss what he and the rest of the players have been doing to get ready for camp. He also is going to address his receiving role, the development of quarterback Colt McCoy, and rules changes that are expected to make returning kicks more difficult this season.

Four-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Joe Thomas visits to talk about camp starting after a very unusual off season, how he has been getting himself ready for workouts, and what he’s looking to hear from first year coach Pat Shurmur gives his first address to the full squad tonight at 7 p.m. ET. That’s right after our hour-long program, which is broadcast live on ESPN 850 WKNR and streamed on ClevelandBrowns.com, leaves the air.

Gil Haskell, senior advisor to Browns president Mike Holmgren and a 28-year NFL coaching and front-office veteran, will join us in to talk about the process of getting a team ready for camp.

Haskell will also go over the many challenges that the Browns, like the leagues 31 other teams, have faced in complying with the new rules for practice under the new collective bargaining agreement. In addition, Haskell will share some stories of his many previous camp experiences.

Make sure you join us!

>>Tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Follow me on Twitter @viccarucci


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The ‘Daily’ lesson

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 29, 2011 – 4:30 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here’s what we learned from Thursday night’s edition “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford”:

–The free-agent/trade period is every bit as insane as so many of us expected. So far, the biggest news has been the trades that sent Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco and Washington Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth to the New England Patriots. Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar didn’t seem all that surprised about either transaction. “When you have a veteran team, a team that wants to win the Super Bowl, thinking they’re a player or two away from the Super Bowl, these types of moves tend to be pretty common,” Kosar said. “They’re high-risk/high-reward for up-and-coming teams. But for established teams with the veteran experience, decision-making confidence within the locker room, guys who have sometimes maybe been bad apples within the locker room, in New England tend to (conform) and don’t step outside the box.”

–Browns quarterback Seneca Wallace can’t wait to get to work in training-camp practice this week in the West Coast-style offense of new coach Pat Shurmur. “I played in the West Coast system for seven years in Seattle,” Wallace said. “Now, coming back here and having the same offense (run) here in Cleveland, it made my offseason that much better. I didn’t have to stress about having to learn a new system again. It’s going to be new to a lot of people … (and) I can actually help on some of the things that we did in Seattle and the things that we’re going to bring here. The terminology is going to be different, some of the play-calling. Last year, we kind of incorporated some of the West Coast system, but we’re running a true West Coast offense now so it’s going to be different for people to adjust to. And I think a lot of guys worked pretty hard through this offseason to get that down.”

–Kosar thinks rookie Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will benefit from not having the “duress/stress that comes with a receiver like Chad Ochocinco.”

–New Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron is working through assembling the pieces for the new 4-3 scheme that will replace the 3-4 alignment the team previously ran. The new look will include a pair of defensive ends who are “generally bigger, sometimes a lot bigger, than your outside linebackers in a ‘34’ and two inside tackles that sort of resemble the nose tackle in a ‘34.’  Now, some people in a 4-3 want one of those tackles to be a quicker, pass-rushing type of guy; some don’t. Ideally, we would like to have a left tackle and a right tackle … but we’ve got to wait and see how the personnel thing works out and see who fits best where. So we may end up with a dedicated, what we call ‘One Technique,’ who’s just off-set on the center, and a dedicated ‘Three Technique,’ who will be just off-set on the shoulder of a guard. And we’ll see how that works out.”

–The Browns, according to Jauron, will often have a defensive end positioned in front of the tight end. “In the run game, we feel like that should give us a significant advantage,” Jauron said. “If it doesn’t, we’re not going to play that well against the run, quite frankly. We’ve got to win that battle, hands-down.”

–Veteran defensive back Sheldon Brown, in his second season with the Browns after spending the previous eight years in Philadelphia, did his homework on Jauron by talking with several former teammates on the Eagles, for whom Jauron served as a senior assistant/defensive backs coach last season. “They love him,” Brown said. “I’ve heard nothing but positive things about him. I’m glad I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him before the whole lockout happened, and he seems like a great guy — very motivated, energetic, studies, and he’s willing to be determined to help us win.”

–Jauron came up with a great term to describe the task of finding players to fit his defensive scheme: “Personneling.” He raved about the draft, which featured first-round tackle Phil Taylor and second-round end Jaball Sheard. “Some of the people who were here fit it, obviously, so we’re excited about that,” Jauron said.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King said he thinks the Browns should sign free-agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress, “even though he’s obviously damaged goods.” King said he thinks Burress is “very, very motivated” and that “he’s really trying to turn over a new leaf.” However, King acknowledged, “it looks like the Browns aren’t interested in him.”

–Kosar will be watching for the following when the Browns begin practicing this weekend: Will coaches and players guard against being too euphoric over being back in action after the lockout? “I think they’re going to be so excited and so ready to get going that you’re going to maybe go too fast too early,” Kosar said. “I think you want to look out for those pulled muscles, those pulled hamstrings early in the camp when guys are actually incredibly excited just to be playing football.” He will also, of course, be keeping a close watch on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy to see how he handles “the basics of the quarterback spot. Does he throw a spiral? How quickly (the ball) gets (out of) his hand and to the receiver.”

>>Tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Follow me on Twitter @viccarucci


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Jauron visits the Daily

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 28, 2011 – 5:34 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

One of the major themes from our production meeting for tonight’s edition of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” was that it’s time to start digging into the Xs and Os.

The Browns’ conversion from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense is one of the hottest topics entering training camp, and new defensive coordinator Dick Jauron will be with us to talk all about it.

During the show, which airs from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on ESPN 850 WKNR and is streamed here on ClevelandBrowns.com, Jauron will break down the key elements of his version of the 4-3 scheme, the process of installing it, and his assessment of some of the players who will be executing it. He also will address the challenges of making the schematic switch without the benefit of working with players during the offseason.

Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar will join us for the second time during this opening week of “Cleveland Browns Daily” to take an early look at how things are shaping up with Friday’s start of training camp fast approaching.

The flurry of activity in the free-agency market continues, and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King will stop by to discuss some of the highlights, including the New England Patriots’ acquisition of disgruntled defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth from the Washington Redskins.

My early take: If anyone can find a way to make a guy who presumably didn’t want to play in a 3-4 defense be productive in that alignment, Patriots coach Bill Belichick can. His well-documented history of getting the most out of players who were unhappy elsewhere is one reason this deal could work out well for the Patriots. So is the fact that, if Haynesworth is motivated, he could be the major force he once was with the Tennessee Titans.

We’ll have much more analysis and answers to some of the questions you’ve submitted to “Ask Vic” via the Browns’ Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Looking forward to your joining us!

>>Tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Follow me on Twitter @viccarucci


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The ‘Daily’ lesson

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 28, 2011 – 3:09 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here’s what we learned from Wednesday night’s edition “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford”:

–Pat Shurmur isn’t the least bit intimidated by the widely held assumption that he and other first-year NFL coaches are destined to struggle because they had no opportunity to work with players during the lockout. “I’m looking forward to that challenge,” Shurmur said. “Initially, when you’re building something, you’ve got to learn how to play from behind and get some wins. And then, hopefully, we can get to the point where we can learn to play from the front. I try to stay positive. (The attitude is) more of, ‘Hey, let’s get this thing done,’ instead of, ‘Woe is me.’ I’m really looking forward to it and I think it can be a positive thing.”

–Quarterback Colt McCoy is ready to handle the enormous pressure that comes from the much higher expectations for him than existed during his rookie season in 2010. “Nobody has higher expectations than what I have for myself,” McCoy said. “My only goal is to win.

–ESPN’s John Clayton has a high regard for the Browns’ faithful. “There’s no better fan than the Cleveland Browns fan,” Clayton said.

–McCoy has no intention of allowing himself or his teammates to waste any time while preparing for the season. “We’re ready to hit the ground running,” McCoy said. “Let’s understand what we are trying to do, and when we get here, let’s be ready to go.”

–Even if you’re a part of the “first family of the football,” you don’t necessarily get treated the same as other family members. Former Browns linebacker Clay Matthews II shared the following story about how his sons, Clay III and Casey, began their journeys this week to the headquarters of their respective NFL teams: Clay III, a linebacker for the defending-Super Bowl-champion Green Bay Packers, had a car service pick him up for his ride to the airport while Casey, a fourth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles, had to catch a ride with dad at 5’o’clock in the morning.

>>Tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Follow me on Twitter @viccarucci


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Coach’s turn on Daily

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 27, 2011 – 4:10 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

We’ve heard from the team president. We’ve heard from the general manager.

Now, it is the head coach’s turn to join us during Week One of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford.”

Pat Shurmur, in his inaugural season at the Browns’ helm, will drop by our studios for the first couple of segments of the show, which airs 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on ESPN 850 WKNR.

As with other decision-makers here in the building in Berea, Shurmur has been exceptionally busy with the process of helping to put together the Browns’ 90-man roster for training camp while also getting updates and revisions from the NFL on the rules of doing business under the new collective bargaining agreement. In addition, he’s getting to know the players who continue to arrive from various parts of the country, most for the first time since the lockout began in March, and welcoming the nearly two dozen undrafted free agents who officially signed today.

We’ll talk with Shurmur about the nuts and bolts of preparing for camp and how he anticipates it all to unfold once things get started on Friday. We’ll also get caught up with how he and his staff have spent the past several months with no players to coach, as well as some insights into what makes him tick. One of his annual rituals of summer is to re-read a book about football coaching fundamentals authored by his uncle, the late Fritz Shurmur, a long-time assistant coach with five NFL teams. Pat recently let me borrow the book, and it definitely put me in the proper frame of mind for diving back into football.

You’ll realize, as I’ve known for a long time, that Pat’s a very interesting guy with a fascinating background. And he has an off-the-charts passion level.

We’ll also be joined by our third former Browns great of the week, linebacker Clay Matthews, who will connect with us by phone from his home in Southern California. He’ll get us caught up on what he’s been up to and talk about his two sons in the league, Clay III, a linebacker for the defending-Super Bowl-champion Green Bay Packers, and Casey, a rookie linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tonight’s national media guest will be none other than John Clayton of ESPN. Our friendship goes waaay back to 1979, when we were both on the Penn State football beat. Few journalists in this league burn up the phone lines as much as Clayton, who told me last night that he had three calls going at once while tracking the latest news in free agency.

Fortunately, he’s be able to put aside a little time to be on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford.”

Be sure to tune in!

>>Tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Follow me on Twitter @viccarucci


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The ‘Daily’ lesson

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 27, 2011 – 3:08 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here’s what we learned from Tuesday night’s edition “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford”:

–GM Tom Heckert is an extremely busy guy. He and the rest of the player-personnel staff have been negotiating with players on multiple fronts. Heckert said the team has 23 undrafted free agents who should have their signatures on contracts by Wednesday. That’s a clear indication of how ready the Browns were to strike once the lockout ended on Monday. Heckert didn’t reveal any names, and it’s hard to gauge from league-wide/social-media buzz whether any of them would jump out at most fans. Could there be a hidden gem somewhere? We’ll see.

–Heckert is sticking with his stance that the Browns are “not going to go crazy in free agency.” He said it wasn’t necessarily because of an unwillingness to spend big, but rather a reflection of the club’s core strategy for acquiring talent. “I think (team president Mike) Holmgren said it last night (on the debut of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford”) that our philosophy is to build through the draft,” Heckert said. “We were an older team last year and we have to get younger. We know that, and obviously, through the draft, that’s how you do that. There are certain players we’re going to go after, and if we think they can help the Cleveland Browns, we’ll do it. But we’re not going to just go out and spend money just to spend money and say, ‘We need this guy’ or, ‘We need this position.’”

–The Browns are happy with the receivers they have, even if they aren’t accomplished. That might not be music to the ears of the many fans who have been vocal about wanting the team to sign a big-time receiver in free agency. Heckert didn’t rule out the pursuit of a free agent at the position — something that Holmgren mentioned was in the team’s thought process Monday night — but the GM did say, “We do have some young guys that we do like. Carlton Mitchell and Jordan Norwood … obviously we drafted Greg Little, and we do like Robo (Brian Robiskie) and (Mohamed) Massaquoi. We have to wait and see how it pans out, but we don’t want to give up on guys too soon. The offense we run is a receiver-friendly offense, so let’s give them a chance and see what we have.”

–Like probably everyone who does what he does, Heckert doesn’t like the frequent changes in the last 24 hours or so to the process of putting together a 90-man training camp roster in the new collective bargaining agreement. For now, all NFL teams are able to negotiate with all free agents, including their own, but they can’t sign them until the NFLPA recertifies as a union, and that isn’t likely to happen for several more days. Only players already under contract and signed rookies are able to be on the field for non-contact workouts during Friday’s opening of training camp. “It’s not good,” Heckert said. “I’m glad we got a 10-year deal with the CBA because I don’t want to go through this again. It’s interesting, it’s difficult, but it’s the same for everybody. One day you’re getting rules on college free agents, one day you’re getting rules on your rookie pool, when you start training camp, what you can do in practice. It’s done but there are still moving parts to this thing, where everybody’s not exactly sure how to go about things. It’s really going to take some time to get used to.”

–Lead CBS NFL analyst Phil Simms is not all that concerned with the potential for the league’s quality of play to suffer from the loss of offseason workouts. While acknowledging that any team’s early season struggles is likely to prompt immediate conclusions that the lockout was to blame, Simms said an offseason with no coach-supervised practices might actually benefit players because teams often don’t give them enough time off between the end of one season and the start of another. “Now they’ve had a sustained period where they could do some resistance training, running, healing, and probably be healthier overall than they’ve ever been going into a season,” Simms said.

–Cornerback Joe Haden, who was among the several Browns players who reported to the team’s training facility Tuesday, could hardly contain his enthusiasm for being back to work. “It feels like the first day of school,” Haden said. “(Monday) night, I couldn’t even get to sleep.”

–Simms, a Super Bowl MVP quarterback for the New York Giants, sees a significant jump in pressure for Browns second-year quarterback Colt McCoy. “The second year comes, and it’s not new anymore,” Simms said. “And the expectations of the productivity from the fans, the media, everybody’s going to want to see more. So it’s going to be much rougher for everybody involved.”

–Former Browns quarterback Brian Sipe still regrets how his team handled the strike that reduced the 1982 season to nine games, five of which the Browns lost on the way to a third-place finish in the then-AFC Central Division. “I don’t think any of us thought it was going to happen, so I think it caught us a little bit off guard,” Sipe said. “Now I take responsibility for some of that, because being the quarterback and being the leader and having the organization and coaching staff step completely away from us, we could have done a better job of working out and being prepared for the conclusion of that thing.”

–Simms is “curious” to see how the program that Holmgren and the rest of the Browns’ decision-makers put in place last year advances. Said Simms, “I saw a good, solid football team last year, but you know what? I never saw parts that were going to make it a winner. I guess the best way to say it is, you need playmakers to win in the NFL, you need stars. And I know right now the Browns don’t have enough stars.”

–Although he lives in his native Southern California, Sipe still has a great handle on what makes Cleveland sports fans tick. “With all due respect to the Cavaliers and the Indians,” Sipe said, “Cleveland is a Browns town. There was no doubt about that one.”

>>Tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Follow me on Twitter @viccarucci


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Heckert, Sipe to hit Daily

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 26, 2011 – 3:56 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

We’re back at it, preparing for tonight’s edition of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford.”

One realization that quickly developed during this morning’s production meeting is that we have too much content for a one-hour radio show.

That, of course, is a GREAT problem to have.

But we’re going to make it all fit.

Highlighting tonight’s program (6-7 p.m. ET on ESPN 850 WKNR and streamed live on ClevelandBrowns.com and ESPNCleveland.com) will be a conversation with one of the busiest men in our headquarters here in Berea: GM Tom Heckert. We’re thankful that, in between the countless phone calls and meetings he’s been having since the lockout ended, he’ll be able to squeeze a little time for us to share what the Browns are doing to assemble the 90-man roster they’ll take to training camp on Friday.

As team president Mike Holmgren said of the period of negotiating and signing free agents (the Browns’ own, rookies, and unrestricted from other teams) on the debut of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” Monday night, “It’ll be a little wild.”

For the second night in a row, we’ll have a Browns quarterbacking legend as a guest. Monday night it was Bernie Kosar, who had this interesting observation about the leadership of current Browns quarterback Colt McCoy: “A lot of times the guy wants to be your friend, buddies with everybody. Colt has that understanding of when it’s time to be a buddy and be nice and also when it’s time to jump on people. For younger players, quarterbacks especially, to jump on a veteran player and tell him what to do in the heat of a battle, is easier said than done.”

Tonight it will be Brian Sipe. He’ll reflect on his time with the Browns, the passion of Cleveland fans, his role in the NFL work stoppage of 1982, and his current job as quarterbacks coach at his alma mater, San Diego State.

That and much more will make for a jam-packed hour. Be sure to join us.

>>Tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Follow me on Twitter @viccarucci


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One down, many to go

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 26, 2011 – 1:27 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

The first “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” radio show is history, and as I sit back in a quiet studio, I feel a great sense of pride to be part of an organization that defines the meaning of teamwork.

That one hour we spent on the air was a reflection of a tremendous amount of support — both from the Browns and the folks at ESPN 850 WKNR, which carries the program live Monday-Friday beginning at 6 p.m. ET – from a lot of very professional and dedicated people.

It begins at the top of each organization — where there was a common belief that the Cleveland market had the appetite for such a show on a year-round basis — and continues with production, marketing, and sales staffs that effortlessly collaborated on the finished product. I just had to sit behind a microphone and try not to screw it up.

Monday night’s debut was incredible because it came with the announcement of the end of the NFL lockout. There were two celebrations going on simultaneously in the training facility here in Berea — the return of football and the launch of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford.” The feeling of electricity was palpable, and the energy filled the studio throughout the day and the entire show.

The combination gave us an abundance of content, but with players due to arrive in the building in hours and Friday’s opening of training camp, we’re going to have even more to discuss in all of the days ahead. The preseason, regular season, postseason, and all of the activity through the first of many “normal” offseasons that will be upon us next year are going to be overflowing with material.

But Monday night was a very nice start.

Team president Mike Holmgren addressed how the Browns will proceed now that the NFL and the NFL Players Association have agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement. He discussed the schedule of signings, and acknowledged that, with first-year coach Pat Shurmur and other changes, the Browns face greater challenges than more experienced clubs. However, he said he thought his coaching staff and players are capable of handling them.

“We have some young people that really want to learn and get better and let’s just roll up our sleeves and do the best we can,” Holmgren said.  “I’m really confident that our players prepared while they were away. I think they want to learn. They want to get better. They want to do this. There’s a great feeling on this team. Now we just get it done”

Two of the more popular former Browns, quarterback Bernie Kosar and offensive lineman Doug Dieken, also stopped by. They’re going to be regulars on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford,” and they demonstrated why their segments will quickly become favorites of our listeners. During the 15 minutes we spent together, we broke down post-lockout life, their own experiences with NFL work-stoppages in the 1980s, Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, and what might be expected of the team’s approach to free agency.

I loved the casual, conversational feel of “talking ball” with two guys who have great insights, as anyone who has heard Kosar’s analysis on WKYC’s preseason Browns television coverage or listened to Dieken’s analysis on the Browns Radio Network broadcasts can attest.

You can count on much more of that from our many other guests, beginning with Tuesday’s edition, which I’ll preview in my blog after our morning production meeting.

It’s one down … many more to go.

>>Tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven By Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Follow me on Twitter @viccarucci


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