April 24, 2014

Cleveland Browns schedule released

Browns helmetThe NFL released the schedules for all 32 teams on Wednesday night. The Cleveland Browns will open the season at Pittsburgh on September 7. The home opener will be in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints.

The Browns have an early bye week in Week 4.

Week 6 is the Steelers game at FirstEnergy meaning they are done with the division rivals before the halfway point in the season.

The Browns finish the season on the road for the last two weeks.

[Related: Kosar out of broadcast booth]

 

Kosar out of television booth for preseason Browns games

11959204-largeThe Browns released a statement on Wednesday evening regarding the preseason schedule and the broadcast team on the coverage.

Jim Donovan will be joined in the television broadcast booth by Solomon Wilcots for color commentary this year, meaning former QB and fan favorite Bernie Kosar is out of the booth.

“The Browns and WKYC are revamping their broadcast team, welcoming veteran commentator Solomon Wilcots to the preseason television booth. Additionally, the Browns are exploring more opportunities to allow fans to hear from Bernie Kosar, the All-Pro quarterback who guided the team to three AFC Championship games in the 1980s. ”

Those “opportunities to hear from Bernie” might include the pregame show for the preseason games, as well as roles on the team’s official website and on various other Browns programming.

Last season, Kosar had to apologize for negative remarks made about the St. Louis Rams receiving corps he made during a broadcast. He was also arrested in September on suspicion of DUI.

There is a pretty good chance those two incidents had much to do with why he isn’t on the WKYC broadcast team anymore.

[Related: Have you seen Johnny Football in Cleveland today?]

Salazar’s struggles and more …While We’re Waiting

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Indians pitcher Danny Salazar seems to be a one-pitch pony right now. The ball that Mike Moustakas crushed for a three run homer last night was a breaking ball that was up and right over the middle of the plate. His fastball has been terrific, especially the first two times through the order.

But if Salazar is going to become an effective and consistent starter, he is going to need to come up with some different action on his fastball or vary the speed a bit and hit spots. This article at Getting Blanked is a good read. Three different types of fastball dominant pitchers and how they are effective.

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No surprise to those long time readers here at WFNY, but I’m not much of a fan of diva athletes. Take a guy like say, Keyshawn Johnson. Something about his personality just rubbed me the wrong way. (To be fair, I’m sure I’d annoy him as well, if he had any clue who I was.)

So I read this at Eleven Warriors and I have mixed feelings. It appears Keyshawn Johnson Jr. has Ohio State on his short list. He isn’t his father. It is a little unfair to put those kinds of expectations on him whether good or bad. He could come in and be a model citizen and player. He could also fall short of his father’s talent. You never know.

We’ve seen other receivers with famous fathers come in. Chris Carter’s son Duron didn’t have such a good time at his dad’s alma mater. I guess if Keyshawn Jr. comes to Columbus we’ll be hearing more from the elder Keyshawn.

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This was making the social media rounds on Tuesday. It is an article about the time that Cleveland released a million and a half helium balloons trying to set a world record. I realize that many of you were not yet born when they did this in 1986. I certainly was alive, but I don’t really remember this. Anyone?

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Pro Football Talk broke down the Browns’ draft needs (by position) and somehow managed to ignore the offensive line and the inside linebacker position. Hmmm. Interesting.

Of course they list QB, WR and CB which are pretty much universally understood. Mike Wilkening chose to also include RB and TE in his top five positions of need.

Don’t get me wrong, I could easily see the Browns adding someone at both of those positions, but I think more as depth type of picks. Inside linebacker and guard are two spots that a draft pick could easily come in and win the job.

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Video: Kyrie Irving’s top ten plays of the season

The NBA put together a top ten plays of 2013-2014 video for Kyrie Irving.

Former Browns WR Brian Tyms suspended

Browns helmetBrian Tyms was signed by the Browns last October. He was active for seven games, catching a pair of passes. Monday morning, Adam Caplan reported that Tyms has been suspended by the league.

Tyms was waived by the Browns on March 5th.

No details are available on the reason Tyms was suspended. A four game suspension handed down by the league without any arrest reports leaked out sounds an awful lot like a banned substance suspension. Which to me is newsworthy considering the length of time he spent in the Cleveland locker room last season.

[Related: Nate's room now resides in Cleveland]

First pitch swinging and uniform trends…While We’re Waiting

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It isn’t just your imagination, Asdrubal Cabrera has been swinging at the first pitch in big situations for a while. And he is actually getting worse at it. That’s according to some research by Fansided’s Brian Heise. (Math!) It is a bit soul crushing to see Cabrera coming up to bat in a tight spot and just know in your gut he’s going to swing at anything close.

The problem might be his early career success when swinging at the first pitch. Back in 2011, he actually hit .402 when swinging at the first pitch. Things have gone downhill since then however, and you have to think that pitchers are quite aware of his tendency to go after that first delivery. That’s what I believe they call making an adjustment. Time for Asdrubal to do the same. Please. I’m begging.

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A couple of uniform related notes this week. First, The Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles released new uniforms. Aside from being just a straight uniform nerd, these two uniforms were made by Nike and well, I’ve been keeping my eye on trends we could be seeing for the new Browns digs next year.

Miami got a ‘smoke’ uniform. So the gray trend continues. Both uniforms got accents that are unique. Nike started this with the Seahawks. They designed a feather pattern in Seattle’s stripes to represent the 12th man. Miami got an Ibis shadow incorporated into sleeve designs and the new white helmet. Florida State got a tribal looking design to their stripes and of course the new trendy matte finish helmets.

The last item is the El Paso Chihuahuas. They got a new mascot. He’s a little frightening, but not quite New Orleans Pelicans frightening.

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Shutdown Corner did their draft prospect piece on Khalil Mack. Obviously I’m not an NFL talent scout or defensive coordinator. Mack to me looks like the real deal, and as crazy as it may sound I would like to see him at another position. I think Mack has what it takes to be an inside linebacker at the pro level.

I’d put the Browns’ chances at drafting Mack as slim. First, he could very likely be off the board when they pick at four. Second, I don’t think that the team is going to to for a pass rusher with the number four pick considering the roster we have already.

I do think Mack is one of the safest choices in the draft though. I think when the class of 2014 is analyzed in 10 years Mack may be the one standing at the top of the group.

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Ohio State coach Urban Meyer named Braxton Miller and Jeff Heuerman as two of the team captains for next season. File this under no-brainer. The real question for the Buckeyes is what happens on the defensive side of the ball. SO many questions remain.

Indians activate Michael Bourn, send down Nyjer Morgan

Michael BournThe Indians today activated OF Michael Bourn from the 15-Day DL and optioned OF Nyjer Morgan to AAA Columbus.

The move comes as a bit of a surprise because of Morgan’s success early in the season for the Indians. In nine games, Morgan has a .348 batting average and an OPS of .832. He is third on the team in walks with 7 and tied for the team lead in stolen bases.

In the end, it appears the outfield was just too crowded for the Indians and manager Terry Francona. The Indians elected to keep an eighth reliever instead of sending down C.C. Lee or utility man Elliot Johnson.

Morgan, a lefty, does not play against left-handed pitching where Johnson is a switch hitter.

[Related: On the Indians' struggles against left-handed pitching]

Browns to work out Johnny Manziel this weekend per report

nfldraftThe Browns didn’t use one of their official interviews on Johnny Manziel during the NFL combine. Then they were one of just two teams in the NFL not to send a representative to Manziel’s pro day.

This weekend the Browns will get their chance with Johnny Football.

According to Adam Caplan, Manziel is next up to visit the Browns.

The Browns have the fourth and twenty-sixth picks in the upcoming NFL draft.

Currently, the Browns have Brian Hoyer and Alex Tanney as the only quarterbacks on the roster.

[Related: The worst NFL draft cliches]

AFC North coach compared Bridgewater to fictional character. One in four it was a Browns coach.

NCAA Football: Louisville at West VirginiaMaking it’s way around the internet on Monday is this story from Matt Miller, whose twitter handle is @NFLDraftScout and who is a lead contributor for Bleacher Report. The story is that an NFL head coach compared Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to…

Yep. Willie Beaman. Don’t go searching Pro Football Reference for his stats. Beaman was the character from the movie Any Given Sunday.

So Miller says that an AFC North coach was the one that made this comparison. There’s only four. Chances it was Harbaugh or Tomlin seem slim to me, you?

Deadspin is saying what we’re all probably thinking:

“It’s the Browns, right? It can’t not be the Browns.”

Sigh. Yep. It is probably the Browns.

UPDATE: Yes, good eye. Not necessarily a Head coach. Which opens things up a bit.

[Related: Could Bridgewater slide into day two of NFL draft?]

Photos: EA Sports in town getting Browns players “In the game”

Long snapper Christian Yount and newly signed defensive back Isaiah Trufant took to social media after getting their faces digitized for the upcoming edition of the Madden franchise- Madden 2015. The guys seemed to have gotten more than just their mugs pixelated. It looks like there was a goodie bag for each as well.

Figures. The guys who have the money to blow on video games get the free ones. Go figure.

Trufant

Update: More players getting the Madden treatment.

Justin Staples

Justin Staples (Custom)

Tori Gurley

https://twitter.com/TGurley81/status/455767255645945856

Browns adding former Bengal fullback Chris Pressley?

Thomas PressleyIf Chris Pressley can return to form from a knee injury that cost him the 2013 season, he could be in for a treat in Cleveland.

This town loves them some fullbacks.

According to Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com (who by the way, does a really good job covering Browns news for the Beacon Journal) the Browns have signed the free agent fullback. Pressley was cut by the Bengals back in December. Pressley began the season on the PUP list after suffering a season ending knee injury back in 2012.

Pressley was a college teammate of Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas at Wisconsin. Thomas’ senior year was Pressley’s sophomore season. Pressley was signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2009.

The Browns offense under Kyle Shanahan will likely use more of a traditional fullback than the offense used last season under Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner.

[Related: Nate's room now resides in Cleveland]

Thome’s first pitch juuuuuust a bit outside

Former Indian Jim Thome (you know, the guy who is getting a statue this summer) was invited to throw out the first pitch for the Charlotte Knights. The Knights are the AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, but were the Indians’ affiliate in 1993 and ’94. Thome and Manny Ramirez were part of that ’93 team that won the International League title.

Thome never pitched in a major or minor league game. Perhaps we now know why.

Alex Mack saying the right things about Browns matching his deal

Alex Mack is saying all the right things about his new contract and his relationship with the Cleveland Browns. If you expected anything less, well you haven’t paid much attention to Mack’s career.

Talking with Cleveland.com on Saturday, Mack said he is happy to still be in Cleveland.

“It’s been a long, hard road, but I’m here and I’m happy, I’m excited. I’m fired up. There’s no bad blood. Now that it’s done, I’m happy.”

When asked about the reports that he wanted out of Cleveland, Mack said “I don’t believe I ever said that.”

“Contracts are tough. It’s the business side of things and as a player my job is to play football, something I’m good at. I have agents (Marvin Demoff and Tim Younger) to do the business side of things, and it’s not always easy, but I’m happy with where I’m at.”

Alex Mack is a smart person and a smart player. This negotiating period was all about money and options. If I were a betting man, I would bet that Mack’s camp wanted the opt-out after two years but Cleveland was reluctant to include it. Once Jacksonville made the offer, the Browns were quick to match however.

That’s my guess. Not reporting it as fact.

[Related: Details of Jaguars offer to Mack]

Video: Lindor’s hot start includes game winner for Akron

Cleveland uber-prospect Francisco Lindor is having a good start to the AA season for Akron, hitting safely in eight of the Rubberducks nine games. He has a double, a triple and a pair of home runs to go with seven RBI.

One of those homers came in the bottom of the 13th inning on Friday night for a walk-off winner.

Details of Jaguars offer to Alex Mack reported

According to numerous reports, but first by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Alex Mack is about to become the highest paid center in the NFL.

Whether he plays for the Jaguars or Browns is still undetermined.

What we can gather is that Jacksonville’s offer includes $18 million guaranteed over the first two years of the deal. After 2015 there is an option for Mack to void the rest of the deal. If he does void the remaining contract, he cannot be tagged with the transition or franchise player designation no matter whether he plays for the Jaguars or if the Browns match the deal.

The 2016 season is worth $8 million according to FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo.

The total of the deal is believed to be $42 million dollars. That averages out to $8.4 million and makes Mack the highest paid center in the league. He is 28 years old and has never missed a snap in his NFL career.

The Browns will have five days to match when he signs the offer sheet, believed to be tomorrow.

[Related: Browns reportedly ready to match whatever offer for Mack]

John Axford finally recieves his Rolaids Relief Award…from 2011

Axford Rolaids (Custom)Indians closer John Axford is off to a good start. He is four for four in save opportunities after getting the save in the first half of the Tribe doubleheader on Wednesday. He is trying to bounce back from a bad 2013.

Axford’s best season by far came in 2011 when he saved 46 games while posting a 1.95 ERA. He allowed only four home runs in over 73 innings pitched for the Brewers and was rewarded with the National League Rolaids Relief Man award.

Except he never got the trophy. Until Tuesday morning in Cleveland.

FOX Sports’ Rob Neyer reports that the famous Rolaids trophies with the fireman helmets have been hard to come by since the Rolaids product went through two recalls stemming from consumer reports investigations.

“After those two recalls, Johnson & Johnson drastically reduced its distribution of Rolaids-brand products, and the attendant promotion of those products. Without Rolaids on store shelves, there was obviously little incentive to spend any money at all on those nifty trophies … and so none was spent, at all. Bell and Rafael Soriano, the winners in 2010, didn’t get their trophies. José Valverde and John Axford, the winners in 2011, didn’t get theirs, either.”

The players union apparently fought to get the awards made, and on Tuesday, Axford finally got to hold the silver trophy that he earned back in 2011.

Blocking the King and honoring a Chagrin Falls native …While We’re Waiting

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I was in bed a good portion of Tuesday with stomache issues, which is never fun. I did get to watch something that I’ve been wanting to watch for a while but never pulled the trigger on it. It isn’t sports related, but it is Cleveland related. I watched the documentary Dear Mr. Watterson, which is about Chagrin Falls native Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, my favorite comic.

If you are a fan of boy and his tiger, I recommend watching it. The documentary is an hour and a half long and very well done. Many interesting topics covered including his staunch refusal to allow any licensing for Calvin. None. Those stickers of Calvin peeing on various logos on the back of cars? Big surprise, they are not licensed.

Calvin and Hobbes (Custom)Remind you of the Tribe game last night?

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Braxton Miller has a habit of missing a few quarters, or games for that matter. He takes a lot of hits because of his carries. This past season Kenny Guiton was the back-up and a really good one. Guiton is gone. The man who is one step away from taking meaningful snaps for the Buckeyes? Cardale Jones. You know, the guy who once questioned why football players had to actually go to class.

If stories are to be believed, Jones has grown up. He credits Guiton for a lot of it, and Meyer.

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The RubberDucks home opener is on Thursday night. It’s supposed to be nice from what I’ve seen in the forecast. They have made a ton of changes around Canal Park. I’d recommend stopping by and checking it out. You can see the SS of the future there. Lindor is batting .333, with an OPS of .840. If he keeps hitting, hard to imagine him being in Akron longer than a month and a half or so. Plus, you will get to see the new mascot Webster unveiled.

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You will probably be seeing this all over the web today, but it is worth it. Big time block by Mason Plumlee at the rim on LeBron attempting a game winning dunk. Best part? LBJ was sporting the King James jersey. Awesome.

 

Sorting out the Browns wide receiver situation

Little2The Browns announced the signing of Nate Burleson on Sunday night. Burleson will be 33 when the season begins. He has had a nice NFL career, but at this point he isn’t exactly the threat opposite Gordon that would make the Browns a dangerous offense. (Quarterback notwithstanding.)

The Browns currently have the following receivers on the roster: Josh Gordon, Nate Burleson Greg Little, Travis Benjamin, Andrew Hawkins, Josh Cooper, Charles Johnson, Tori Gurley and Vernon Conner.

Gordon is the legitimate number one receiver. He is one of the best in the league and still hasn’t reached his potential. Travis Benjamin tore his ACL last season against the Chiefs in week 8. He should be ready to go for the beginning of the season. Benjamin is dangerous because of his speed and agility. Hopefully he is able to fully come back from this injury. Even if fully healthy, he is a slot receiver and return specialist.

Andrew Hawkins is the free agent acquisition from the Bengals. Obviously the team thinks enough of him to outbid the Bengals for his services. Looking at his career to date, you wouldn’t think that Hawkins is being primed to be the second option behind Gordon. He is a very nice 3rd/4th option. [Read more...]

Photos: Waiters, Dellavedova and Hawes take in an Indians game

Three members of the Cleveland Cavaliers took in an Indians game together on Sunday afternoon. PG Matthew Dellavedova, SG Dion Waiters and C Spencer Hawes sat on the third baseline and enjoyed the game. For the record, Hawes was not afraid to wear Wahoo.

Hawes tweeted a different shot.

Deleted scenes and a television confessional …While We’re Waiting

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It turns out there will be a scene that you won’t be seeing in the Draft Day movie. It appears that the NFL wants to portray a little less violent or crazy atmosphere. They reportedly made the movie cut a scene in which fans hung an effigy of Kevin Costner’s character.

When I was young my dad took me to see the Browns play the Colts in the playoffs. It was January 9, 1987 to be exact. The Browns beat the Colts 38-21. As we walked through the Muni-lot on our way in the game, I saw a huge crowd gathered around chanting and cheering as a group of fans hung an effigy of Colts’ running back Eric Dickerson.

That wasn’t my first playoff game at Municipal Stadium. We went to see the Jets game the year before. It was the first time I had seen an effigy in person though. Must have made an impression, because I still remember it.

I don’t really know that I’m either in favor or not in favor of the move made here by the NFL. Maybe it isn’t as far-fetched as some might think though. Although, Browns fans have had plenty of coaches and front office people that could have had the effigy treatment. If it hasn’t happened yet, maybe it is a bit of movie fiction. (H/T FSO)

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Huge props to the Rays for a cool tradition. Tampa Bay has had it’s players out meeting and greeting their fans on Opening Day since the team’s inaugural year. Some were out shaking hands and giving high fives. Some were scanning tickets. All of them had a simple message- thanks for coming.

Can’t tell you how big a fan I am of this. I’m sure not every player is asked to do this. I bet some are a lot more willing than others. Still, kudos Tampa.

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Yesterday’s discussion of the How I Met Your Mother finale had me thinking. Not because I had a different opinion, or any opinion at all really. See I’ve never seen the show. In fact, there are so many shows that everyone around me (or around me in cyberspace) talk about constantly that I have just never watched. So I started a little list. These are shows that I have either never seen, or never seen more than an episode of.

30 Rock, Lost, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, South Park, The Sopranos, The Wire, Family Guy, Arrested Development, Sex and the City, Dexter, The West Wing, Breaking Bad and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

I’m sure that there are more for this list, but I used a couple of ‘top ten shows’ lists to even come up with some of these. Why? Well, a variety of reasons I’m sure. Partially because I don’t have HBO or Showtime or any of those channels. Partially because I have a daughter in the house that I don’t really want to watch these with. I would add that I don’t think my life is any less enriched because I didn’t watch them. I doubt on my deathbed I will really wish I had taken the time to see all of 24. We all have things we love and make time for. Honestly, I think sometimes that other people must get another couple hours a day more than me. I have enough trouble getting to everything I need to do as it is.

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Finally, because you know I’m a uniform nerd… the Akron Zips will have a new look apparently next fall. Looks like they are going with black and gold.

I think we are reaching the point of too much with the trendy uniforms. But hey, that’s just one guy’s opinion. Have a good week gang.