By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
Here’s some of what we learned from Wednesday night’s edition of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”:
–I feel good about the Browns’ receivers. I’ll admit I wasn’t as confident about them at the start of training camp as I am now. But I think this is, at the very least, a solid receiving corps, and it might even be a little bit better than that.
The bottom line is that all of the receivers who have been practicing and playing in the preseason are the right fit for the West Coast offense. They’re bigger, stronger guys who can make tough catches over the middle and athletic catches along the sidelines and in the end zone. Rookie Greg Little is the real deal. There’s also some really good competition, especially between Brian Robiskie and Jordan Norwood. And the bonus will be getting Mohamed Massaquoi back from his foot injury.
–I expect the Eagles’ receiving duo of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to pose a significant challenge to the Browns’ defense Thursday night. After that poor showing against the Steelers, you know the Eagles are going to be looking to come back with a particularly strong effort in their passing game. And this is a combo that could have a big night against a defense and a secondary missing some key people.
With Maclin, who had a real scare when he was sidelined for a while and there was concern he might be dealing with cancer, you have a highly motivated receiver running routes for a highly motivated quarterback in Michael Vick. Vick, of course, is looking to make amends for that poor showing against Pittsburgh.
I think Joe Haden could end up having a really big half, or however long he and the rest of the Browns’ starters play. With no game-planning, I expect Vick to have his share of problems trying to fit the ball into tight spaces, as he is likely to attempt to do, and Haden has just been tremendous in coverage all summer.
–Could we see Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty in the backfield at the same time against the Eagles? I think it’s possible, although I’m not sure how many elaborate formations – if this falls into that category – the Browns would want to trot out in the preseason.
The primary emphasis with Hardesty, who is going to be seeing his first game action since suffering that major knee injury year, will be just getting him some reps on running plays and in passing situations. I think this game is going to serve as a strong indicator of exactly where Hardesty is in his recovery and how much, or how little, the Browns can count on him for the Sept. 11 season-opener against Cincinnati.
–Browns Radio Network analyst Doug Dieken sees handling the Eagles’ offensive speed as the greatest challenge for the Browns. “They’re more of a home run team in a lot of ways,” Dieken said. “They’re not a real big downhill running team, where they just want to pound it. The thing that hurt us last week (against the Detroit Lions) (was) a couple times with dump-off passes to the side of the backfield. (The Eagles) do a good job of that.”
–Jay Glazer, NFL insider for Fox Sports and NFL Network, made a quick stop in Berea as part of a whirlwind preseason tour of teams around the league. Joining him was a camera crew from HBO’s “Real Sports,” which is doing a piece on him. During our conversation with Glazer, he had plenty to say about the Browns picking Pat Shurmur to replace Eric Mangini as their head coach: “Pat’s the perfect guy. His personality … he’s real. Most of these guys, when they get head coaching jobs, they change. Pat never changed. I’ve known him for forever. He’s really not changed since he got in the job, and the big thing is now guys are being treated like men. Mangini, when he was an assistant, he was cool. And once he became head coach, he turned into somebody totally different. You’re dealing with the most street smart cats in this league, in this country, and they will see through you in a heartbeat. And that’s what Mangini’s problem was. You’re not going to walk through fire for somebody who’s fake. Not only that, he demeaned everybody. So getting a guy in here like Pat, who’s treating everyone like adults, everybody is going to want to go out and lay the extra line out there for him.”
–Dieken sees plenty of benefit for the many younger Browns to play their first NFL game on the road in the notoriously unfriendly confines of Philadelphia. “They tell you all about your ancestry and things like that,” Dieken said. “You find out which one of their fingers work and which ones don’t … It’s a tough place. (But you) find out who (among the players) keeps their cool and who doesn’t.”
>>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.
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