Dieken on ‘Daily’

Posted by Vic Carucci on August 31, 2011 – 7:04 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

The Browns’ preseason comes to an end Thursday night at Chicago, and tonight’s edition of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” is devoted to getting you ready for the game against the Bears.

Former Browns quarterback and WKYC football analyst Bernie Kosar will check in from the team hotel in Chicago to give his thoughts where things stand with the Browns after three preseason game. He’ll also discuss the loss of offensive guard Eric Steinbach to season-ending back surgery and offer an assessment of Steinbach’s replacement, rookie Jason Pinkston.

We’ll offer a thorough analysis of the Browns’ roster, how they’ll use their players against the Bears, and the decisions the team faces with Saturday’s roster cut from 80 to 53.

Tom Thayer, a former Bears offensive lineman and analyst for the team’s radio network, stops by to give us an update on the team that finished one game shy of the Super Bowl last January. Thayer will talk about the leadership skills of quarterback Jay Cutler and what areas of the team have stood out during training camp and the first three games of the preseason.

>>Be sure to 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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Carucci’s Corner: ‘Daily’ lessons – 8/30

Posted by Vic Carucci on August 31, 2011 – 2:09 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

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

–Shawn, via Facebook, pointed out that the NFL’s most successful teams running the West Coast offense had the following qualities: a dominating offensive line, a premiere tight, and a quarterback/wide receiver combo that were money in the bank. Based upon the performance we’ve seen thus far in preseason, Shawn asked, how does this team stack up against the competition?

Although I would not say the Browns have truly arrived in any of those categories, I would say that they have the makings of a team capable of excelling in the critical areas you mentioned for success in the West Coast or any offense for that matter.

The line clearly has taken a big hit with the loss of veteran left guard Eric Steinbach to season-ending back surgery. But it still has some outstanding core players and some solid young people, including Steinbach’s immediate placement, rookie Jason Pinkston. I’d be more worried with the loss of either tackle or the center.

The Browns look as if they can be exceptional at tight end. And we’ll have to see how the quarterback-receiver combination develops. Colt McCoy is making big strides, but I can’t say that there is a receiver who accurately fits your “money-in-the-bank” description.

–Having said that, I do feel good about the Browns starting the season with the receivers they have, provided that Massaquoi is back to his top form before suffering his foot injury.

I think there is tremendous promise from rookie Greg Little. And I can see Josh Cribbs making an impact as the Browns involve him more heavily in the passing game.

–Browns general manager Tom Heckert hardly sounded as if he was panicking over the loss of Steinbach. “(Offensive line’s the) one position we’re kind of deep at,” Heckert said. “We traded for John Greco; he could play either guard or tackle, obviously. We drafted Pinkston, and we think he’s going to be a really good player. So between those two guys we should be able to fill that spot and hopefully be productive … I think we’re OK.”

–Center Alex Mack on Pinkston: “He’s doing a good job. He’s still young, still picking up on some things. It’s not second nature yet, so he has some time to pick things up, try to get to know the offense a little better, get to know how to work with each one of us, see what the games are like and learn over that time. Hopefully, he gets some playing time in there and learns really fast.”

–Heckert said there have been “quite a few” players who began training camp under the radar but have since made their presence known. Among them are undrafted rookie free-agent defensive back James Dockery and first-year defensive lineman Auston English. “I think he’s proven he can play in this league,” Heckert said of Dockery. “We actually threw him out at safety a little bit. If you can do more than one thing and be on special teams, that’s a huge advantage for him.” Heckert said he thought English has had a “good training camp” and should see plenty of action in Thursday night’s preseason-finale at Chicago. “He’s a guy that can rush the passer. He was a defensive end in college (Oklahoma); we kind of made him into a linebacker in the 3-4, and now he’s playing in his true position, so it’s really shown that he’s a good football player.”

–Gil Brandt, an analyst for NFL.com and former personnel guru for the Dallas Cowboys, said the Browns are better than they were in 2010. “(Cornerback) Joe Haden has a year of experience, (safety T.J.) Ward has a year of experience, (Pro Bowl tackle) Joe Thomas keeps getting better all of the time,” Brandt said. “They won five games last year and I think they have the chance to win six or seven games this year. They are definitely a team that’s on the rise. I wish they had another wide receiver to help (Mohamed) Massaquoi out there a little bit, but I think Browns fans will be very proud of this team in the future, not only because of Pat Shurmur, not only because of (Mike) Holmgren, but just for the type of players they’ve recruited and for the second year in a row I think they’ve had a very good draft. And I think the fans will love their first choice, (defensive tackle) Phil Taylor of Baylor because he’s going to make a lot of people wonder why they didn’t draft him.”

>>Be sure to 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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Mack, Heckert on ‘Daily’

Posted by Vic Carucci on August 30, 2011 – 6:58 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Browns general manager Tom Heckert and offensive linemen Alex Mack headline tonight’s edition of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford.”

Heckert will reflect on how the team has performed through three preseason games and areas that need to be addressed as the Browns prepare for Thursday night’s preseason finale at Chicago and the upcoming roster cut from 80 to 53.

Mack will share his thoughts about having a rookie, Jason Pinkston, next to him at left guard in place of injured Eric Steinbach and a second-year pro, Shawn Lauvao, at right guard.

Also, Gil Brandt, an analyst for NFL.com and former personnel guru for the Dallas Cowboys, joins us to talk about some of the major headlines around the rest of the league. He’ll have plenty to say about quarterbacks, including Colt McCoy. He’ll also address his outlook for the Browns this season.

>>Be sure to 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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Carucci’s Corner: ‘Browns Daily’ lessons – 8/29

Posted by Vic Carucci on August 30, 2011 – 12:52 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

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

–Ryan, via Facebook, asked whether Browns fans should be concerned about the club’s special teams. Specifically, he cited the season-ending injury to punter Reggie Hodges and the “so-so performance” of his replacement, Richmond McGee. What, Ryan wanted to know, were my thoughts about the importance of punting?

Punting is a critical aspect of the game. Losing Hodges is a significant blow, because he is one of the best punters in the league and you don’t move on without missing a guy like that. At the same time, I think McGee has been solid enough. He certainly doesn’t make you forget about Hodges, but he seems like a capable punter. And, remember, he has never performed in an official league game, so this is still fairly new to him.

After what we saw in Philadelphia last Thursday, concern is probably warranted. But not panic. My bigger worries were with the overall sloppiness that we saw from the Browns’ special teams against the Eagles. That has to be cleaned up, and quickly, or there will be reason for concern to become panic.

–Bill, via Twitter, inquired about how far behind I thought wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi would be given all of the time he has missed working with quarterback Colt McCoy while recovering from a chipped bone in his foot.

You’d have to think there is going to be a good deal of catching up that needs to be done. The Browns run such a timing-based passing game, and Massaquoi simply hasn’t had the opportunities to get that sort of work with McCoy.

Still, Massaquoi did tell me during the show: “The one good thing is we were able to meet up a few times this offseason. I went to Texas a few times, came to Cleveland once, so that definitely helped, just learning the playbook together. Then, just knowing the playbook out here and taking mental reps and seeing it visually so when I get out there I know what I’m supposed to be doing.”

–Sean, via Facebook, asked who I thought would be the Browns’ leading receiver at the end of the season.

I’d have to go with tight end Evan Moore. He just is too amazing an athlete, with the surest hands of anyone on the team, to not hold that distinction by the end of the year. For instance, on Monday, he effortlessly reached out with his left hand to snag the ball without breaking stride.

And while we’re on this topic, although he is a rookie and rookie receivers are prone to struggling as they learn all of the nuances of getting off the line and reading coverages and making the proper adjustments, i think Greg Little has the best chance of having the most catches among the wide receivers.

–ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio addressed the importance of the Browns getting off to a fast start. “I have never seen a ‘must’ win in the first week; Cincinnati at home is an absolute slam-dunk must win game for the Browns, no question in my mind, when you look at their schedule,” Paolantonio said. “If you can go to Indy (in Week 2) and somehow steal a win with Peyton Manning not a hundred percent, then you have Miami and Tennessee come in and you have to basically take two out of the next three. If you lose at Indy, you have to win the next two games at home against Miami and Tennessee. Then you’re 3-1 at the bye and you have a sense of confidence with the young QB, rookie head coach who by the way, I love. I’m a Pat Shurmur guy here in Philadelphia; he’s just terrific, going to be a great head coach in the NFL. Then you can go to Oakland and get another win, then you have Seattle coming in and they’ll be totally dysfunctional, you can go 5-1 before you to San Francisco on Halloween weekend.”

>>Be sure to 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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Massaquoi joins ‘Browns Daily’

Posted by Vic Carucci on August 29, 2011 – 5:01 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi visits “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” to discuss his return to practice after being sidelined with a bone chip in his foot.

We’ll discuss his progress and get his thoughts about being part of the Browns’ West Coast offense. Massaquoi will also offer some thoughts about the rest of the team’s wide receivers and quarterback Colt McCoy.

Former Browns quarterback and WKYC preseason television analyst Bernie Kosar will make the first of his two regular weekly visits to the show to discuss how the Browns look after two preseason game and how their roster shapes up after the first round of cuts and with more cuts to come.

ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio joins us to talk about some of the major headlines around the rest of the NFL. You will also want to hear what he has to say about the Browns and how he thinks they will fare this season best on his own special method of projecting a team’s won-loss record.

>>Be sure to 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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‘Cleveland Browns Daily’ lessons – 8/26

Posted by Vic Carucci on August 27, 2011 – 2:28 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

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

–I agreed with Mike’s description, in the question he submitted to “Ask Vic” on the Browns’ official Facebook page, that the team gave a “decent” performance in Thursday night’s 24-14 preseason loss in Philadelphia.

The reason, as Mike pointed out, is the Browns held up reasonably well against what is “likely the team to beat” in the NFL this season. In certain areas, the Browns struggled and didn’t look as impressive as they did in their first two preseason games. And in other areas, they were pretty solid.

I liked their pass rush and pass coverage, which combined to limit the effectiveness of Michael Vick. I also think the Browns had a couple of bad officiating calls that, if they went the other way, could very well have led to an entirely different outcome. But there is much work for them to do with only a couple of weeks to get ready for the regular season.

– Christopher, via Facebook, wanted to know if the Browns’ struggles in pass protection Thursday night were indicative of problems they’ll regularly have against speedy defenses.

No. I think the Browns’ pass protection issues had more to do with the Eagles’ coverage than they did with poor work by the Browns’ offensive line, although it hardly was the best game of the preseason by that group. I haven’t seen anything in practice or in three preseason games to conclude that the Browns have any particular problems handling defenses that have a great deal of speed.

–Andy, via Facebook, pointed out that the Browns’ defense, mainly their linebackers and secondary, need to cover better. He wondered what the Browns’ linebackers needed to do to fix this problem.

Simple: The defense, as a whole and especially at linebacker and in the secondary, needs to get healthier. It needs players such as linebacker Chris Gocong and safeties T.J. Ward and Usama Young back in the lineup.

–Browns coach Pat Shurmur said there was a chance injured wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi could play in next week’s preseason finale at Chicago, but that it was more likely he would only return to practice for the first time since the lockout ended and training camp began last month.

–Shurmur said he is following the “24-hour rule” when it comes to dealing with Thursday night’s game. “Win, lose, or whatever, you try to make the corrections and move on as quickly as you can,” he said. “And I think that’s the direction we’re going.”

>>Be sure to 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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Shurmur joins ‘Browns Daily’

Posted by Vic Carucci on August 26, 2011 – 5:17 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Tonight on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” Pat Shurmur will be in the studio to discuss Thursday night’s 24-14 preseason loss against the Philadelphia Eagles.

We’ll talk about the Browns’ offensive struggles, turnovers, and penalties, and what the team can learn from them with one week remaining in the preseason.
We’ll also address some of the highlights for the Browns, including the performance of first-round draft pick Phil Taylor.

Andrew Catalon, who handles play-by-play for WKYC’s preseason television coverage, will join me for a detailed review the game. We’ll reveal who the fans thought deserved game balls, based on voting cast on the Browns’ official Facebook page, and also tell you how we voted.

In addition, we’re going to provide you with several post-game interviews from Thursday night. You’ll hear from Taylor, Colt McCoy, Montarrio Hardesty, D’Qwell Jackson, and Alex Smith.

>>Be sure to 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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Eagles 24, Browns 14

Posted by Matt Florjancic on August 26, 2011 – 2:29 am

PHILADELPHIA — The Browns fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 24-14 in their first preseason road game of the 2011 season Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles staked themselves out to a 24-0 lead before the Browns scored two unanswered touchdowns.

Tight end Alex Smith hauled in a 17-yard touchdown pass from back-up quarterback Seneca Wallace with 14:16 remaining in the game. Wallace’s pass was batted into Smith’s hands after Demetrius Williams knocked it away from an Eagles defensive back in the end zone.

The Eagles received a 15-yard penalty for trying to challenge the scoring play, as under new league rules, only the replay booth can call for a review.

Jarrett Brown threw a four-yard touchdown to undrafted rookie Chris Matthews with 1:57 remaining in the game. That score capped a nine-play, 71-yard drive that took 5:47 off the fourth quarter clock.

Quarterback Vince Young scored a 10-yard touchdown and by doing so, increased the Eagles’ lead to 24-0 over the Browns.

The three-play, 17-yard scoring drive took 1:26 off the third quarter clock.

Michael Vick’s eight-yard touchdown at the 4:52 mark of the first half gave the Eagles a 17-0 lead, which they took into halftime of Thursday night’s game.

Vick’s eight-yard carry was the Eagles’ second scoring run of the game and preseason.

Earlier in the quarter, kicker Alex Henery booted a 37-yard field goal through the uprights in the North end zone and gave the Eagles a 10-0 advantage over the Browns.

Henery’s field goal, which capped a six-play, 22-yard drive, was set up by Asante Samuel’s interception of Colt McCoy on the first snap of the second quarter. Samuel returned the ball 17 yards before Shawn Lauvao registered a tackle.

Ronnie Brown’s 13-yard touchdown run with 4:53 remaining in the first quarter gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead over the Browns.

Brown’s scoring run followed a special teams mistake from the Browns.

Jordan Norwood signaled for a fair catch on a punt return, but collided with rookie defensive back James Dockery while trying to get out of the way of the ball. Norwood was then hit by the punt and the Eagles recovered deep in Cleveland territory.

Earlier in the quarter, a missed assignment allowed the game to remain scoreless.

Phil Dawson’s 33-yard field goal attempt was blocked with just over 11 minutes remaining in the first quarter when Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie rushed in and batted the ball out of the air.

Rodgers-Cromartie’s block kept the Browns from taking advantage of their good field position.

First-round draft pick Phil Taylor had registered a sack of Vick on the team’s first defensive possession and also knocked the ball loose deep in Philadelphia territory. Browns defensive lineman Jayme Mitchell recovered the ball at the Eagles’ 18-yard line.


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Brown throws TD

Posted by Matt Florjancic on August 26, 2011 – 2:24 am

Jarrett Brown threw a four-yard touchdown to undrafted rookie Chris Matthews with 1:57 remaining in Thursday’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

The score capped a nine-play, 71-yard drive that took 5:47 off the fourth quarter clock.


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Browns find end zone

Posted by Matt Florjancic on August 26, 2011 – 2:00 am

PHILADELPHIA — Tight end Alex Smith hauled in a 17-yard touchdown pass from back-up quarterback Seneca Wallace with 14:16 remaining in the game. Wallace’s pass was batted into Smith’s hands after Demetrius Williams knocked it away from an Eagles defensive back in the end zone.

They trail the Eagles 24-7 at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles received a 15-yard penalty for trying to challenge the scoring play, as under new league rules, only the replay booth can call for a review.


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