Receiver competition heats up

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 31, 2012 – 9:23 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

ANDREW – Hey, Vic, with the new receivers that have been added this offseason, how do you think the final roster will look? I think Carlton Mitchell and Jordan Norwood could both be left out of the 53 man roster. Go Browns!

That’s entirely possible, Andrew.

Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin have performed exceptionally well through the early part of camp. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say they have been the Browns’ best two receivers to date.

Gordon already has established himself as the Browns’ most physically gifted pass-catcher. His combination of exceptional size, strength, and athleticism is mostly unmatched by any other receiver on the team. All he needs is to continue to work his way into football shape, having been out of the game for more than a year because of his suspension at and subsequent transfer from Baylor, and learn the Browns’ offense. Even when he doesn’t know exactly where he needs to go on a certain play, he is still able to do enough to get open and make a catch.

Benjamin has been a standout since camp began. He is using his remarkable speed to his fullest advantage, and is catching the ball well.

Josh Cooper also continues to make his presence felt as someone who consistently gets open and catches the ball well.

Therefore, in the course of making room on the depth chart for Gordon and Benjamin (and possibly Cooper) after Greg Little and Mohamed Massaquoi, you are going to be forced to make some difficult decisions elsewhere within the receiving group. And, yes, that would figure to make players such as Mitchell and, perhaps, Norwood somewhat vulnerable.

EVAN – Will Trent Richardson be the next Adrian Peterson?

If he achieves that level of success, Evan, that would be amazing.

I don’t, however, necessarily see an exact comparison between the two. Richardson’s body type and skill set are a little bit different than Peterson’s. Although Richardson is solidly built and, like Peterson, incorporates plenty of power in his game, he is more of a compact runner. And he uses that low center of gravity to the fullest extent, whereas Peterson runs a little bit taller.

I also see Richardson as relying a bit more on his elusiveness to get through the first wave of defenders. Like Peterson, he can shift into that higher gear in the open field.

I can easily envision Richardson having tremendous production. Will it equal or even surpass what Peterson has done through a sterling pro career?

Let’s let the guy play some actual NFL games before we go there … but I’m expecting him to equal the lofty expectations that go with a third overall pick.

DREW – With a prospective sale of the Browns being reported in the media, I am worried about a new owner coming in and possibly “blowing things up” again – i.e., new front office, new coaches, new personnel. We have to stick with Holmgren, with Shurmur, with Weeden, etc., and give them a legitimate chance to win (at a minimum another three years at least). What do we know about Mr. Haslam (the prospective buyer) that may escalate or alleviate these concerns?

Drew, I don’t know enough about Mr. Haslam to even offer a guess at what his approach would be regarding possible changes.

Generally speaking, it isn’t unusual for a new owner to revamp parts or most of the team’s structure, on and off the field. A new owner is likely to have specific ideas about how he wants to run a franchise, and it could very well differ from those of the regime in place. It is also common for a new owner to bring in his “own people” in key leadership roles.

But there is nothing that says that the people already in the building couldn’t adapt to whatever changes the new owner might want to make in terms of how the team is run.

The next owner would be taking over a very healthy franchise from a football standpoint, and, from what I understand, a business standpoint as well. With the additions of rookies who look to have dynamic play-making ability (Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson, Gordon, and Benjamin) and a solid right tackle (Mitchell Schwartz), the timing could be ideal for a new owner to end up with a club that could be strong for years to come.

>>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.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Addressing ownership questions

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 30, 2012 – 9:21 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

CHUCK – What would new ownership under Jimmy Haslam mean for the Browns this season?

Way too early to give you anything resembling a comprehensive response, Chuck.

I have no idea on what the timing would be for if/when Jimmy Haslam would have an ownership stake in the Browns, and, therefore, I couldn’t say what sort of impact would be noticeable this season.

From the standpoint of the on-field product, the primary shaping of the team has already been done by the player-personnel department and the coaching staff. Systems and plays already have been installed, and through the offseason and so far in training camp, players are doing things as they’ve been structured by Pat Shurmur and his assistants.

Regardless of who owns the club, when you’re starting the season with a football plan that has been put in place, it would seem to make sense to give it a chance to work and look for the best result.

Now, if there are struggles before, during or after an ownership change that takes place before or during the season, you might wonder if there would be a different reaction. But I think that still would be the case with the same ownership. The expectation for success, the demand for that, would be no different regardless of who owns the team. Think about the multiple changes at the coaching and general manager levels that have been made under Randy Lerner’s ownership in a continual effort to find success.

BRIAN – Is there a chance the Browns are leaving Cleveland?

Brian, team president Mike Holmgren is on record as saying that the Browns remaining in Cleveland was a key stipulation in Randy Lerner’s dealings with any prospective new owner.

And that comes as no surprise. Randy Lerner is a Cleveland guy and knows as well as anyone what the franchise means to the entire community. He has always seen his role as that of a caretaker – that even though the club belongs to his family in a business sense, he sees it as belonging to the fans of Cleveland.

And he includes himself among that group, and, I firmly believe, always will.

Although I have not had any personal dealings with Jimmy Haslam and although he is from Tennessee, everything I have heard about him speaks to someone who clearly understands what the Browns mean to Cleveland and the franchise’s rich history.

To that extent, I feel confident in believing that he views this as a community investment as well as an investment in the National Football League. And I would go as far as to say that he sees as much value in Cleveland’s long-standing love affair with its football team as anything else the Browns have to offer.

CHRIS – So how do you feel about the Browns becoming serious contenders now with a new owner that will go investing into free agency?

I think you’re getting a little bit ahead of yourself, Chris.

Until the deal is done and we’ve had a chance to hear about whatever philosophical approach Jimmy Haslam would take to ownership, any thoughts regarding his football or business plan would be pure guessing.

For what it’s worth, the NFL team in which he has a minority interest is the Pittsburgh Steelers. The last I checked, the Steelers believed, as the Browns believe, that you primarily build your team through the draft and use free agency selectively.

>>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.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Observations from 1st day in pads

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 29, 2012 – 6:24 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are some observations from the Browns’ first day in pads at training camp:

>>There was some typical sloppiness that comes from the first day of contact drills. The dramatic surge in practice tempo always catches rookies off-guard, and it even seemed to have a few of the veterans a little wobbly at times. You saw miscommunication between quarterbacks and receivers, some misfired throws, a fumbled snap, and the need for regrouping among offensive players and coaches here and there. A little more yelling could be heard from the coaches than was the case during the previous two days of camp. Again, very ordinary stuff for the first day of pads.

>>Brandon Weeden looked very much like a rookie quarterback at times. He made some poor decisions, one of which led to an interception. But the errors he did make were mostly out of his willingness to challenge the defense deep with his strong arm. Weeden calls himself an “aggressive thrower,” and that has been evident throughout the first few days of camp. He performed better on Sunday than he did on Saturday, largely because he is a perfectionist and took the time (staying up until past midnight Sunday) to study the corrections he needed to make.

>>The fan support was absolutely inspiring. The crowd of roughly 4,200 was the most for a single practice session since the team began tracking camp attendance in 2005. It says that people are pretty excited about the infusion of talent from the draft and supplemental draft, and anxious to see what sort of strides have been made to improve over last year. It also says that it was a great way to spend picture-perfect, sun-splashed day.

>>The emphasis Sunday was on running the ball, because that’s what contact best allows the coaches to assess. And for the most part, what the Browns did in that area was encouraging. The offensive line got its share of victories. Guards Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao were particularly impressive. The Browns did the bulk of their running to the left, behind Pinkston and left tackle Joe Thomas.

>>Several passing plays included five-step drops, which allows for longer routes to develop. Browns coach Pat Shurmur clearly has plenty of confidence in Weeden, his offensive line, and his receivers to take that approach in what he no doubt sees as a more attack-oriented passing game.

>>The defensive line was mostly solid inside, despite the absences of tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor. Rookie tackles John Hughes and Billy Winn had some turns to work next to each other, and looked good. Veterans Brian Schaefering and Scott Paxson also worked together in the middle. Make no mistake: The sooner Rubin and Taylor return, the better, but in the meantime, but the Browns do have some decent answers. Rubin is expected to return soon, although Taylor is likely to miss part of the regular season.

>>Montarrio Hardesty stole the show at running back. He showed exceptional speed and explosiveness on outside runs, and held his own between the tackles. Hardesty definitely has entered this camp wanting to make a statement that, despite Trent Richardson being selected with the third overall pick and already being named the starting running back, he is still capable of making a significant contribution.

>>Richardson caught everyone’s attention when he snagged a short pass from Brandon Weeden, made a quick cut and then tore upfield in a flash.

>>Rookie receiver Josh Gordon continued to show his exceptional physical skills by running smooth routes, catching the ball well, and utilizing all of his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame to separate from defenders.

>>Receiver Greg Little did some work from the slot. The idea is to find a way to have him and Gordon on the field as much as possible with the other receivers as much as possible, although it seems to be a role with which he will need some time to get comfortable.

>>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.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Different start to training camp

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 28, 2012 – 3:23 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

So there were the players on Friday, going through their warm-ups before an afternoon practice.

And there was the team president, going over the events from a memorable morning.

It was the start of the Browns’ training camp, and the only thing wrong with this picture was that the full roster of players did their work while being virtually ignored by a large crowd of reporters and cameras.

That’s because the reporters and cameras were surrounding Mike Holmgren, who provided a briefing on the big news that had broken at the start of the day: Browns owner Randy Lerner is in negotiations with truck-stop magnate Jimmy Haslam, who is interested in purchasing controlling interest of the club.

Understandably, football took a backseat to business. But only briefly.

Once Holmgren answered some questions and assured the media that the Browns would remain in Cleveland, the attention did shift to the action on the field.

There was plenty of talk about whether the negotiations for the sale of the Browns was a distraction to the players and coaches as they take the most important step to date in preparing for the 2012 season.

However, watching the practice, it was hard to find any signs that those on the football side of the operation were thinking about anything other than what was happening on the field. Players moved swiftly, mostly crisply, and with a general sense of urgency through drills. Coaches shouted instructions, reminders, and corrections throughout.

Veteran players, such as D’Qwell Jackson and Phil Dawson, fielded questions about the negotiations’ potential for interfering with the task of trying to finally turn the team into a winner. It would be unrealistic to think that the players and coaches were oblivious to the buzz from the biggest story to hit the Browns in many years, and Jackson and Dawson acknowledged that was hardly the case. Jackson acknowledged that the news took him by surprise.

But the linebacker put it best for everyone in the organization when, in sharing the advice he shares with younger teammates, said, “…worry about what you can control.”

>>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.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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How about just being rated?

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 27, 2012 – 4:09 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

THOMAS – Who do you think will be the most underrated and overrated players on the Browns’ roster. Personally, I think Jordan Norwood and Buster Skrine are the most underrated, and the most overrated is Scott Fujita, who we really didn’t miss when he was out last year.

Thomas, I agree that Norwood might not get enough props for his skills and contributions, and I could see him being more productive on the other end of Brandon Weeden’s throws. Skrine’s exceptional speed gives him the potential to make a greater impact in the return game, as well as in the secondary.

But, frankly, I don’t think there are enough difference-makers on the Browns – at least that we know of yet – to categorize players as underrated or overrated. We just need to have guys rated beyond the obvious: Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Joe Haden, and D’Qwell Jackson.

And I think that time will come in the very near future.

DUSTIN – We all love Jim Brown, but really? Living in Alabama, I’ve watched Trent Richardson play a lot. This guy is not an “ordinary” player. Richardson is extremely fast, ungodly strong, elusive and a quick thinker.

I go along with all of your points on Richardson, Dustin.

While Brown’s calling him “ordinary” does give Richardson something to think about, I hardly think that it will serve as the primary force that drives him to have a big rookie season and an outstanding career. Richardson is quite aware of Brown’s prominent place in Browns and pro football history, but given his age, he is unlikely to be obsessed with a comment made by someone from whom he is separated by multiple generations.

I strongly believe that Richardson is thinking far more in the moment when it comes to establishing his own place in the game and proving his worth as the third overall pick of the draft and that he is deserving of the large contract that goes with that stature.

His speed, strength, and elusiveness will have much more to do with his ability to reach the heights for which he is striving than anyone’s criticism.

ERIC – The absolute best thing about Trent Richardson is that he stays away from the media and the drama. We lose players (Peyton Hillis/Braylon Edwards) due to this all the time, as does every team in every sport.

Good observation, Eric.

Richardson’s ability to avoid being caught up in, as you put it, drama, should serve him well. When the opposite happens, it often spells the beginning of the end for a player because his focus is in all of the wrong places.

The Browns experienced far too much drama from Hillis last season, and it’s one of the key reasons he is no longer on the team.

>>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.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Early camp important for all players

Posted by Bernie Kosar on July 26, 2012 – 3:56 pm

By Bernie Kosar, Special Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Here are my takes on the Browns made while appearing on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”:

I don’t want to over-dramatize it, but I really believe in the benefits of these first few days and the early part of training camp, especially from a rookie standpoint.

If you’re Brandon Weeden, and you want to be a leader, and if you’re Trent Richardson and you want to have a strong year, I can’t over-emphasize how important it is for these guys to be in camp on time and get themselves feeling comfortable with their surroundings.

Beginning on Friday, when the full squad is in Berea, there will be a completely different tempo than what the rookies experienced during minicamps and OTAs. That’s true even for the veterans. The speed, the excitement, the pressure to perform, the desire to show that you belong, that this is your spot and that you deserve this position, is incredibly high.

Another hugely important factor is physical conditioning. And it’s fair to expect that the vast majority of players will arrive in good shape.

Twenty or 30 years ago, guys came to camp to get into shape, whereas now guys typically report in shape. And they should be reporting with a good grasp of the mental side of things. Yes, it’s only been basically a month since the OTAs and minicamps, but you really want to make sure you’ve retained your knowledge of the playbook.

These couple days before the veterans report is almost imperative for a young quarterback, such as Weeden, because he gets almost a refresher course on the terminology and other aspects of the playbook, so when the veterans are here, he has a nice command of the verbiage and he’s able to talk with the veterans and have a good understanding of the plays, calling plays in the huddle, the sight adjustments, and other nuances of the given plays. That way, when the veterans hear you talk, they know that you know what you’re talking about.

All of us are going to be paying so much attention to the wide receiver position, especially now with the arrival of Josh Gordon as a second-round pick in the supplemental draft. He reminds me so much of Greg Little because at this time last year, the same things that are being said about Gordon – about not having played in a year, not being in football shape, being someone who we’re wondering how he’ll handle things and how he’s going to catch on – were being said about Little.

Little is past that. And I’m a big believer that guys make a big jump, mentally and physically, between year one and year two. Little, who hadn’t played in college in his final season at North Carolina, ended up leading the team in catches last year. Now that he has a year under his belt, I look for him to really take another step towards another level of play-making.

And I think Josh Gordon could rely on guys like Greg Little to help accelerate his learning curve, how to handle getting back into the swing of things, and that will definitely have a correlation as to how successful our offense is with the young wide receivers.

Be sure to catch Bernie Kosar’s regular appearances with Vic Carucci on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” Monday through Friday, 6-7 p.m. ET, live on ESPN 850 WKNR and ClevelandBrowns.com


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Browns rookie camp impressions

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 26, 2012 – 3:10 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are some impressions from the Browns’ rookie training camp on Wednesday:

>>Josh Gordon is an impressive athlete. You are first struck by his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame. But the guy isn’t simply large (and larger than all of the other rookie receivers). He looks to be an exceptional athlete. He moves with a great deal of fluidity and catches the ball with relative ease. Gordon’s hands not only appear to be dependable, but they’re also extremely large. A couple of people who shook hands with the second-round pick in the supplemental draft shared that his hand swallowed theirs. Having been out of football because of his suspension at and subsequent transfer from Baylor, the guy is understandably behind in his physical conditioning, although he has plenty of time to catch up before the Sept. 9 season-opener against Philadelphia.

>>Gordon told reporters he didn’t feel he was all that behind from a mental standpoint, given that it was his first on-field action with the Browns. Still, in some drills he was asked to stand to the side and watch, although it was clear he was eager to be on the field for every snap possible.

>>Travis Benjamin has clearly made significant strides since offseason workouts. The fourth-round choice from Miami consistently ran routes with greater precision than he demonstrated in rookie minicamp, full-squad minicamp, and OTA workouts. He also caught everything that came his way, and the speedster showed even greater explosiveness after getting the ball in his hands.

>>Brandon Weeden continued to look like the best thrower of the Browns’ quarterbacks. There was almost no comparison between the velocity and accuracy of his passes and those of the only veterans participating in the rookie camp: Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace, and Thaddeus Lewis. That said, it was interesting that Pat Shurmur noted that McCoy, Wallace, and Lewis are throwing the ball better and showing improvement from last season simply because they better understand the offensive system.

>>It’s hardly a surprise that Shurmur fielded multiple questions about when he planned to officially name a starting quarterback. It’s even less of a surprise that the coach deftly sidestepped those questions, saying only that “earlier is better” for the decision to be made. But there truly is no rush. Shurmur and the rest of the Browns’ hierarchy would like to see Weeden perform in pads in training-camp practices. Quarterbacks are off-limits for contact during full-pads workouts, but the tempo of those sessions will be faster than what he has seen do date and his response should be somewhat revealing. It also would make sense, perhaps, to see him play a preseason game or two. In the meantime, the Browns could very easily hang onto the rest of their quarterbacks to make sure they are protected against the possibility of an injury to Weeden.

>>For the most part, it looks as if all of the Browns’ rookies have done a superb job of retaining what they learned during offseason drills and meetings. They kept mistakes (and yelling by coaches who aren’t afraid to make loud corrections) to a minimum. That is especially impressive considering that the playbooks they received when reporting for camp on Tuesday are about three inches thick and contain more than a 100 plays.

>>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.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Could Browns handle success?

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 24, 2012 – 9:32 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

DANIEL — Hey, Vic, does Cleveland have the mentality to deal with success, because the parts are in place right now. In my mind, the defense is going to have to get off the field because the offense’s only limitations are in the mind.

Love the optimism, Daniel.

First of all, the ability to cope with success would be a great problem for the Browns to have. But I have no idea if they are equipped to handle it.

You’re talking about a team that, one, hasn’t enjoyed anything approaching success in a long time, and, two, is comprised of a whole lot of young players who are feeling their way in the NFL.

Given the low expectations that national pundits have for this club, I would suspect that the players should have a fairly easy time of being motivated to prove people wrong. Playing the role of underdog is a time-tested source of strong inspiration.

RYAN — Do you believe we actually have a quarterback that can lead receivers so the receivers get more yards after the catch?

Yes, Ryan. That’s an aspect of Brandon Weeden’s game to which I paid particularly close attention during minicamp and OTA workouts, and I saw him consistently place the ball where receivers could catch it and then immediately explode upfield.

His ability to deliver the ball with tremendous velocity, precision, and accuracy allows the receiver to get into position to make a play rather than having to wait for the pass and/or turn awkwardly for the catch. In both cases, the defender has an advantage.

Weeden’s quick release also creates an opportunity for greater effectiveness on slant routes that are a staple of the Browns’ West Coast offense.

AARON — Am I the only die-hard and lifelong Browns fans that feels like Colt McCoy was “The Truth” and that he wasn’t given the time, the talent, or the playbook to succeed? Or that bringing in a middle-aged man (in football years) that has already played out another sport may be a bit jumpy?

No, Aaron, you have plenty of company among people who believe McCoy didn’t receive a fair opportunity to show that he has what it takes to lock himself in as the Browns’ starter.

However, I don’t agree that the Browns’ decision to make Weeden the 22nd overall pick of the draft and proceed with the notion that he will become their long-term answer at quarterback was a case of being “jumpy.” It was a move the team’s hierarchy believed it had to make when presented with a chance to vastly improve its most important position.

And that’s what Brandon Weeden gives the Browns.

>>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.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Richardson will be more than ‘hype’

Posted by Matt Florjancic on July 24, 2012 – 2:53 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

You’ve got questions and comments that you submit to the Browns’ official Facebook and Twitter pages.

Here’s what I have to say about what you have to say:

VIGNESH — Do you think Trent Richardson is going to be good or just a big hype?

I’m going with good all the way, Vignesh.

Not only do you have to be impressed with his production at Alabama, and say that it is reflective of a player who should perfom exceptionally well in the NFL, but you also have to be impressed with the way Richardson is put together physically and mentally. He clearly seems to relish the challenge to show that he can live up to his lofty billing and that he is not, as Jim Brown called him, simply an “ordinary” player.

I also think Richardson will have ample opportunity to display his enormous talent because the Browns are going to make extensive use of him as a runner to help ease the burden on their rookie quarterback, Brandon Weeden. Richardson’s skills as a receiver and blocker should provide him with additional chances to demonstrate that he is every bit the quality player worth the third overall pick of the draft.

Good? I see Richardson as being truly a great player and conceivably the biggest difference-maker of the NFL’s entire 2012 rookie crop.

CHANCE — What kind of season will Brandon Weeden have if he starts the whole year?

If he’s starting the whole year, Chance, then there’s a really good chance that he’s having the kind of season that you would expect a player who was selected in the first round to have.

It would mean that he is performing well enough to help the Browns win or at least put them in a position to do so consistently.

I think it’s fair to expect that there are going to be some bumps along the way, the growing pains that rookies — especially at quarterback — experience. Although, at nearly 29, he’s an older rookie, he still has plenty to learn when it comes to the Browns’ offense and particularly when it comes to the defenses he is going to face.

If he’s starting the whole year, Weeden will have an excellent opportunity to see a wide variety of defensive schemes, to go through adversity, and to develop chemistry with his receivers and offensive line. And if he can start an entire season, that means he has stayed healthy, which would speak volumes about his pass protection and/or his toughness.

ROCK — I like Travis Benjamin. He can stretch the field, but he has had some issues dropping the ball. Well, all of our young receivers have had that problem. I know he’s a big attitude, but bring T.O. to Cleveland so our young receivers can learn.

I don’t agree, Rock.

I don’t see Terrell Owens as filling the helpful mentor role you’ve mentioned. I just don’t think that hat is T.O.’s thing.

The first reason you sign a player is because of his ability to contribute, and Owens, despite being an aging veteran, does keep himself in good enough physical condition to compete. But I’m not seeing enough of a contribution from him to warrant the great potential for distraction that he brings with his ultra-strong
personality. Owens simply isn’t the right guy to have on an offense so young, and especially with a rookie quarterback.

–Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6-7 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.

–Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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Expect receivers to play better

Posted by Bernie Kosar on July 8, 2012 – 10:50 pm

By Bernie Kosar, Special Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Here are my takes on the Browns made while appearing on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”:

After a rough last year or two, the Browns’ wide receivers should have a chance to be better this season.

They’re going to have to show it on the field, of course, but there are reasons to believe they will improve for several reasons.

One is Greg Little’s maturity and growth into a dominant, No. 1 receiver. I’ll admit that I’m an optimist, but I do believe you develop a lot of maturity between your first and second year in the NFL. Little led the team in receptions as a rookie last season, and that was after not playing in his final year at North Carolina. He also was a running back for most of his football career, and was just really starting to learn the wide receiver position last year.

Another factor is the timing and accuracy of the quarterback’s throws. Recently, I was at an event with Brandon Weeden, and we were going over plays and going over concepts in the passing game. We talked about throwing the comeback versus eight-in-the-box, throwing the fade or the take-off versus press coverage, throwing the middle read or the deep fade versus Cover Two.

Those are types of throws that significantly stretch the field and open up things for other players. They open up the entire offense.

In addition, the receivers will be helped by the presence of Trent Richardson in the backfield. Richardson and the rest of the running game will force opponents to incorporate that seventh and eighth man in the box, thus resulting in one-on-one coverage outside.

And if Brandon can find a guy who he’s comfortable with throwing the comebacks and fades to, if Travis Benjamin is able to show his speed and beat press coverage, it significantly opens up the field and gives you just a lot of opportunities to attack defenses.

Yet another factor in allowing the wide receivers to perform better is our offensive line, which I really like. A good offensive line is incredibly helpful to the passing game because it will give the quarterback that extra half-second to throw the ball and the receivers that extra count to kind of work the coverage.

Be sure to catch Bernie Kosar’s regular appearances with Vic Carucci on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” Monday through Friday, 6-7 p.m. ET, live on ESPN 850 WKNR and ClevelandBrowns.com


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