April 23, 2014

Browns Game 3 plans should remain unchanged: Cleveland Browns Injury Roundtable

With injuries to Gary Barnidge, Jason Pinkston, Barkevious Mingo and Dion Lewis, it’s worth wondering if the Browns should change some of their plans for week three against the Colts. With that in mind, here’s a WFNY roundtable to talk about the injuries and what the Browns should do in reaction.

WFNY_roundtable

Craig: So now that the Browns have been bitten by the injury bug, and now that they’ve looked good in two straight games, do you think their plan changes for game three against the Colts? I know this is traditionally a dress-rehearsal game in the NFL, and I know I was the one who criticized the Browns for not playing deeper into pre-season a year ago, but even I’m having second thoughts today because they looked good. Do you think the plans have or should change for game three?

Scott: The unfortunate truth of football is that injuries will occur. [Read more...]

Training Camp News and Notes: Shaun Lauvao carted off field

chudzinski presser

The biggest news from training camp came in the last few minutes of practice. Right guard Shaun Lauvao, who is battling for a starting spot over Jason Pinkston, was taken from the field on a cart after apparently injuring his ankle. The injury occurred during position drills. It is believed he was trying to block Phil Taylor when the injury happened. Coach Rob Chudzinski did not see the injury and wouldn’t comment on the extent of it until after further tests.

Lauvao has started all 32 games in his career.

The offensive line was having a very good day. The team did goal line drills at the beginning of practice, and had a lot of success running the ball. After being denied on the first two attempts, Ogbonnaya ran straight up the middle for a touchdown against the first team defense. Jason Campbell and the second team offense scored on three straight attempts. Campbell connected with Travis Tannahill on short pass across the middle, and then Brandon Jackson ran off tackle to the left twice for scores. [Read more...]

Browns sign sixth-round pick Jamoris Slaughter, announce other roster moves

The Browns today announced that they have come to terms with sixth round pick Jamoris Slaughter on a four year contract. Details have not been made available yet.

The Browns also confirmed the release of S Eric Haag, as well as linebacker Ryan Rau and running back Robbie Rouse.

The club did sign RB Brandon Jackson, as well as two undrafted free agents, wide receiver Michael Edwards and defensive back Kenronte Walker.

Here is the team released biographical information on Edwards and Walker:

“Edwards was initially signed by the Browns on April 30, 2013, and was waived on May 13 after participating in the team’s rookie minicamp. He was a two-year starter at the University of Texas-El Paso (2011-12) after transferring from Mt. San Antonio College (2010) in Walnut, California. He recorded 101 career receptions for 1,477 yards and 11 touchdowns in two seasons at UTEP. Born December 14, 1989, the 5-11, 200-pound Edwards is a native of Glendora, California, where he attended Glendora High School.

A two-year letterman at safety at the University of Missouri (2011-12), Walker appeared in 25 games, recording 115 tackles, one sack, one interception, one forced fumble, one pass defensed and three defensive fumble recoveries. Walker redshirted the 2010 season after transferring from City College of San Francisco, where he notched 36 tackles, five pass breakups, two sacks and one interception in two seasons (2008-09). Born July 28, 1990, the 6-0, 210-pound Walker is a native of Fayetteville, N.C., where he attended Westover High School.”

Brandon Jackson of course was with the Browns since 2011.

[Related: Browns to waive safety Eric Haag]

NFL Injury News: Ahtyba Rubin out for Sunday’s game against Chargers

The Cleveland Browns might someday dominate the defensive line when they get Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor back. That won’t be the case this Sunday.

The Browns injury report as of Friday says that Rubin, Dimitri Patterson and (of course) Scott Fujita are out.

Mohamed Massaquoi, Trent Richardson and Tashaun Gipson are questionable.

The probables are Montario Hardesty, John Hughes, Tank Carder, Travis Benjamin, Johnson Bademosi, Chris Ogbonnaya, Frostee Rucker, Usama Young, T.J. Ward, Bubba Ventrone, and some others.

Interestingly enough, Montario Hardesty hasn’t really been a frequent guest on the injury report. Between that and Trent Richardson, could it be that Brandon Jackson sees himself as an active member of the roster this weekend?

[Related: WFNY Podcast – 2012-10-26 – Craig and Rick preview Chargers matchup]

Cleveland Browns Preseason Game #4: Winners and Losers

Who caught your eye? Did someone stand out? Who blew it? That’s what were interested in this morning. Winners and losers.

Well, that was….not…really…that good.

With cuts coming sometime today (deadline is 9pm), the Browns got their final look at several players last night. What they saw might not have been very impressive.

WINNER: Brandon Jackson. Jackson looked strong and determined running the ball. He even seemed to be enjoying himself out there. Of course, Jackson really wasn’t fighting for a roster spot. I bet he is getting more and more fans in the coaches office for the 3rd down back duties. [Read more...]

Could the Browns offense benefit from contract years?

Watson celebrates (excessively) - (Photo: John Kuntz / PD)

The Browns imported quite a bit to their offense from this most recent NFL draft between Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Meanwhile Mike Holmgren has been on record predicting a “big jump” for the team this year. If that ever comes to pass, the rookies will certainly be a part of the equation. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Browns make a big jump without Trent Richardson being a major factor. In addition to that, it seems to me there is absolutely no way for the team to make a leap without some other breakout performances. Immediately that makes me look to a few of the guys1 who will be working hard for their next contracts.

First up, let’s look at Benjamin Watson. Watson signed a three-year deal worth $12 million and is due $2.88 million in 2012. Despite some excessive celebration penalties, Watson’s time in Cleveland has been viewed as mostly positive. Watson had 68 catches for 763 yards in 2010 including three touchdowns over 16 games. Last season he appeared in 13 games and like the rest of the team, his production dropped off with only 37 catches for 410 yards. Watson will be 32 in December and will most likely be looking for at least one more NFL contract. [Read more...]

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. there are plenty of others who have incentive to work for big money like Jordan Norwood who is younger and has restricted hooks in him. I’m just focusing on three bigger names who will be real real real free agents. []

Is Montario Hardesty Tom Heckert’s Big Miss?

Montario Hardesty is slowly seeing his name etched into the side of the seemingly mile-long stretch of stone. It’s a slab rife with names of second-round draft selections who merely never seemed to get it together and excel inCleveland. The reasons are boundless, but in this instance more than any, Hardesty’s fate is in his own hands. Or knees. Or calf.

Chaun Thompson was clearly overdrafted. Eric Wright fizzled after a solid rookie campaign. Brian Robiskie was not as NFL-ready as the pundits claimed. David Veikune was David Veikune. And now we have a situation where Hardesty, an all-purpose back for whom the team traded up, could be on the outside looking in, already behind 2011 free agent back Brandon Jackson and potentially fending off Chris Ogbonnaya, the mid-season addition who amassed 334 yards on the ground in 11 games.

The flashes have been there for all to see. [Read more...]

Pluto: Brandon Jackson Standing Out So Far

Cleveland sports scribe Terry Pluto is out this morning with his usual Sunday column, and has quite a bit of information in there about the Browns. Leading off this week, he shares some inside details from Browns intel about a surprising back so far:

“2. But another running back also has impressed, the forgotten man from 2011. Not Montario Hardesty. He’s back, too. The player who has stood out to the coaches is Brandon Jackson, the veteran from Green Bay who signed a free-agent contract with the Browns last season. Jackson injured his foot in training camp and missed all 2011.

3. In 2010, he rushed for 703 yards and caught 43 passes for the Packers. In 2010, Profootballfocus.com rated Jackson as the No. 6 receiver among NFL backs as he caught 48 of 57 passes. …

4. Jackson isn’t a great back, but he’s a solid one. He’s 28, but he isn’t beat up, as he was mostly a backup with the Packers. He’ll be paid $1.65 million this season.”

Of course, as Pluto mentions, Trent Richardson’s arrival entirely changes the complexion of the backfield situation this season, but Jackson appears to be the No. 2 ahead of Montario Hardesty for now. Also in the column, Marcus Benard, Brandon Weeden and Greg Little all are the recipients of additional praise.

[Related: Keeping Perspective on Browns Rookie Camp Storylines]

Heckert: Running back will be a “very big positive” this season

Tom Heckert saying that the running backs will be a positive in 2012 isn’t much of a statement considering that the Browns took Trent Richardson third overall. But that’s not all he was saying when he talked to Mike Florio on PFT Live.

I think it’s pretty safe to say we draft a guy third overall, he’s going to be the guy. But we do think we’re going to need extra backs. You know, last year going into the season we thought we’re in really good shape at running back with Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jackson, and Montario Hardesty and it turns out all three of them got nicked up. So, you know, we do think it’s a position where you better have a couple guys and, you know, we have obviously Brandon Jackson and Hardesty coming back both, so we think it’s going to be, from last year where it was probably a weak spot for us, we think it’s going to be a very, very big positive for us this year.

Of course it concerns me a bit to rely on both Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson even as backups to Trent Richardson this year considering they both were injured last season. I don’t think even the most positive fans are looking to usher in the Chris Ogbonnaya or Armond Smith eras of the Cleveland Browns.

Other than the backups, I’m quite excited. After hearing Trent Richardson on The Bull and Fox show yesterday I can’t wait to see the kid get going. He has a humble confidence in the way he talks about leaning on his experience while also looking to adapt to the new surroundings in the NFL. It has been a long time since the Browns had a guy with the potential to back up confident talk from an offensive standpoint. Maybe Kellen Winslow was the closest, and he couldn’t stay out of his own way with his off-field injury and talking a bit too much.

[Related: Getting to know your new Cleveland Browns: Brad Smelley]

Are the Browns overrating their own running backs?

How much of the plan includes Brandon Jackson in 2012?

One thing that persists as a dark cloud over the Browns is the wide receiver situation from last season. The Browns drafted Greg Little and brought in Jordan Norwood, but the statements that will forever hang in the air are words of confidence in a depth chart featuring Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie at the top. Of course MoMass suffered through some injuries and went on to combine with a battered Colt McCoy for a pretty bad passing attack while Robiskie was cut loose altogether. I still have hopes for Massaquoi when he’s cast in the right spot in the offense, but there’s really no doubting that overall Tom Heckert and company mis-read the abilities of the receiver group as a whole a season ago. When Brian Robiskie got cut, it was pretty much an admission of guilt by the Browns brass, I think. Which brings me to the question about running backs coming into 2012. The Browns have let Peyton Hillis go without much fight and they are rumored to like Trent Richardson, but what do you think they’re thinking for real with regard to their own depth chart? I have a sneaking suspicion that their confidence level is higher in the existing crew than fans might think. If I am right, I think the Browns could be headed for another mistake.

In fairness, my inkling could be totally false. The draft season is the season for misdirection, obviously. The Browns were reportedly impressed by Trent Richardson. Also even if they bypass Richardson or miss out on him with the fourth pick, they’ll have chances at some other pretty highly ranked running backs. Point being, I might be sounding the alarm for no reason. But follow me for a bit.

[Read more...]

What if the Browns had some good luck?

We all know the Browns were bad last year. I think most of us also know that the Browns were pretty unlucky as well. I believe that you make your own luck to some extent by dealing well with adversity. The Browns certainly didn’t do that last season. Regardless, there’s almost no denying the bad luck. Peyton Hillis’ injuries and off-the-field incidents were unlucky (or cursed if the Madden Curse is your thing.) Marcus Benard crashed his vehicle and took away the Browns low-priced sacks leader. Brandon Jackson. Remember him? He was supposed to be the versatile second running back. Eric Steinbach wasn’t supposed to miss the whole season either.

It got me wondering what a season of good luck would look like. Obviously you can’t count on any of these things with a straight face. Betting on hope isn’t a plan that ends in success very often. Then again, it would be nice for the Browns to have a season where luck landed them somewhere north of their natural state of success dictated by contingency plans. [Read more...]

2012 Could Look Like 2011 for Browns in Free Agency

Finally with the Super Bowl completed the Browns can get to work trying to get better.  They will more than likely do it without blockbusters again this off-season.  By that, I mean I don’t expect the strategy to vary wildly.  The Browns probably won’t be in any kinds of bidding wars unless they decide that Matt Flynn is their quarterback.  It isn’t every year that you have the chance at an intriguing QB prospect in his mid 20s, so that specific case is off the boards.  But, other than that, I expect it to look a lot like it did a year ago.

You’ll remember last year’s free agent class featured the likes of Usama Young, Dimitri Patterson and Brandon Jackson.

Patterson was basically the replacement for Eric Wright, so you have to be happy with the results at least based on his first season.  The 28 year-old is again a free agent and I expect the Browns to bring him back, but we’ll see.  There is certainly a chance that Patterson could compete for the starting corner position opposite Joe Haden next season depending on the aging Sheldon Brown. [Read more...]

Hillis Will be Back if He Wants to Be Back

According to a report by Mary Kay Cabot yesterday Peyton Hillis might have done enough for the Browns to reverse previous course and consider bringing the big bruiser back.  While I don’t doubt that with Hillis’ late-season surge after finally getting healthy enough to get on the field, I am not sure how much exactly he has proven in terms of dollar signs.

In November Tony Zarella from 19 Action News reported that the Browns were offering three years for $16.5 million with $3 million fully guaranteed.  Other reports/rumors came from LeCharles Bentley that the Hillis camp was seeking somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million guaranteed.  Obviously at that time the Browns and Hillis’ people were very far apart. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Browns Injuries, Asdrubal Cabrera’s Contract, Kobe on Mike Brown

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

Updates on Browns injuries fresh from yesterday’s press conference, beginning with a look at this intriguing backup: “Running back Brandon Jackson passed his exit physical after being placed on the injured reserve in the preseason with turf toe. That means he will be ready to go for the team’s offseason programs, and if the team doesn’t re-sign Peyton Hillis, he would become the team’s starting running back.” [Chris Pokorny/Dawgs By Nature]

A local TV station blog post petitions for McCoy to remain as the QB: “So, here it is: Colt McCoy’s stats are BETTER than four Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks– all of whom won Super Bowls — after 16 starts in the NFL. Even BETTER than two former Browns heroes who played QB.” [Tim Misson/News Net 5] [Read more...]

How I Would Handle the Peyton Hillis Situation

Given the situation we are currently in where Peyton Hillis isn’t healthy and can’t get on the field, I have figured out the best way to handle it for everyone.  LeCharles Bentley “reported” that Peyton Hillis wanted $10 million in guaranteed money in his contract.  Tony Zarella has stated the Browns were willing to guarantee $3 million on a three year deal that would have paid him $4 million, $4.5 million and $5 million.  Zarella also reported that Hillis and his management turned that deal down.  Hillis has been a distraction, to say the least.  I don’t think it has probably affected any of the outcomes on Sundays other than Hillis not contributing on the field.  By which I mean that I don’t think Colt McCoy is playing any worse because of the off-field stuff.  On-field the Browns obviously miss the production that Hillis provided last season.  Not that anyone asked me, but here’s what I would do. [Read more...]

Despite Early Frustrations Patience Is Still In Order

This is why I hate all the prediction-itis that surrounds the NFL.  Every analyst on the planet is seemingly forced to make predictions every single week.  It is a part of the underlying formula that makes the NFL so much more popular than any other American sports.  It was gambling as far back as anyone can remember and now we’ve doubled down with the fantasy football culture.  What ends up happening is that everyone ends up prognosticating so much that they (we) lose sight of reality staring us in the face.

Andy Baskin has been a really refreshing voice on the radio since he started his “Talking Heads” slot on 92.3.  Sometimes he might sound more like NPR than a typical sports talk radio host. That might be off-putting to some of you who like your sports talk extra lively, loud and controversial.  When I listen to that show though, even beyond the delivery, Baskin has a very different attitude and philosophy.  He openly scoffs at the prospect of assigning Ws and Ls on the 16 game schedule at the beginning of the season.   [Read more...]

Browns Put Brandon Jackson on IR, Cut Roster

Before we even got to know Brandon Jackson as a Cleveland Browns running back, he will miss the season with turf toe.  On the one hand it is pretty devastating to find out that the premier free agent from the off-season won’t see a single down of regular season action.  On the other hand, it is better to know that the Browns won’t be able to count on him rather than playing the guessing game wondering if next week will finally be the week that he is ready to play and contribute.

Turf toe is one of those injuries that never seems to heal without complete and total rest.  It nags even the greatest athletes into submission.  Josh Cribbs didn’t have turf toe last year when he dislocated multiple toes, but you saw how important toes are to a quick, explosive player as he was hobbled.  As a result, the Browns kept Armond Smith as they cut the roster down. [Read more...]

Browns Looking to Hardesty to Help While Others Heal

As the Cleveland Browns head into another season, injuries appear to be opening doors for players who may have been staring at a different set of circumstances roughly one month earlier. With the latest bout of bumps and bruises bubbling up in Berea, the Browns backfield is suddenly a sizeable question mark with second-year back Montario Hardesty now looking at a primary backup role to Peyton Hillis, the man for whom an injury one year earlier opened a door to what would ultimately be several flattened defensive backs and the cover of Madden 12.

Brandon Jackson’s recent run-in with turf toe will reportedly keep the man who was dubbed a “key guy” just two weeks earlier on the shelf until Week 5. Hardesty, fresh off of a year-long rehabilitations stint with his surgically repaired knee, will go from a guy who was on the roster bubble – NFL Radio’s Gil Brandt hinted that the Browns could consider moving on without him this past weekend – to being a “key guy” himself as the Browns look to lighten the load on a running back in Hillis who experienced evident fatigue at the tail end of the 2011 season.

[Read more...]

On the Browns and Taylor Mays

I’m not even sure, exactly why I am talking about Taylor Mays.  I guess mostly for a couple of reasons.  Last year before the Browns drafted Joe Haden and T.J. Ward, Taylor Mays was one of the many draft options in the forefront of many Browns fans’ minds.  There were questions about his maturity, attitude and his size being a bit too big to play NFL safety in coverage.  Those questions ended up causing him to drop into the second round where Mike Singletary and the 49ers snatched him up with the 49th overall pick.  Fast forward and Mike Singletary is out and ESPN reported that the 49ers sent an email blast letting everyone know that Mays was available.

Again, why am I even talking about this?  The Browns don’t have a spot for Taylor Mays with T.J. Ward at the strong safety and Usama Young and Mike Adams at the free safety.  Plus, free safety seems like a pretty bad fit for Mays as the question marks around him are related to his ball skills and inability to play in space.  Even still, I can’t help but wonder if this is the kind of project that the new Browns’ regime would be interested in entertaining.  Why?  Check it out. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Tackle Football Tonight: What Are You Hoping To See?

I only ask because I remember how overly encouraged I became when Jake Delhomme took the first team down the field this time last year with the precision of a surgeon.  That didn’t end up translating into the healthiest of regular seasons though, and I’m legitimately wondering what a successful Pat Shurmur debut would look like tonight when the Browns kick things off at home against the Super Bowl Champs.  So let me know what you’re hoping to see, and in the meantime I’ve listed a few aspects of tonight’s game I’m particularly interested in; for whatever that may be worth.  

Brandon Jackson and the RB position:  Peyton Hillis is on the cover of Madden so he is obviously awesome, and he proved his substantial worth last season while hurdling his way to a solid campaign.  It was Peyton Hillis and then nobody though in that Browns backfield, and every time he attempted to jump over a linebacker I saw his life flash before his eyes.  He survived the high-flying acrobatics and hopefully learned from his occasional fumble issues, and now he has help in the backfield this season.  Legitimate help, at least I think he does.  Brandon Jackson was the third down back for a team that won the Super Bowl last season, and I thought the guy was pretty good before he ever became a Brownie.  So as much as I’d like to see what Monterio Hardesty can bring to the table as well - and can’t tonight due to injury - I’ll have all eyes on Jackson.  I hope he looks pretty good while he’s in there, for however long he plays.   [Read more...]