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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