May 18th

  1st edition

By Eric Szczepinski

 A new segment to Cleveland Sports Talk, I will highlight Browns news, updates and give you insight on some things you may not have heard from the week. Enjoy, and Go Browns!

  • Vince Young’s days as a Brown were numbered 11 to be exact. When team announced last Monday afternoon they released Vince Young 11 days after signing him after voluntary minicamp. The team also said goodbye to trick shot quarterback Alex Tanney, RB Fozzy Whitaker, DB Brandon Hughes and DL Brian Stanford.  The release of two quarterbacks could play into favor of newly signed undrafted free agent QB Connor Shaw. Shaw (6-1, 210lbs) posted spectator numbers at South Carolina over his 4 year career. He became the winningest quarterback in Gamecock history going 27-5 as a starter. He also had a perfect 17-0 record at home. In 2013, Shaw threw for 2,447 yards 24 TD’s and just 1 INT.   His play led him to become a finalist for the Unitas award and semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award. So, why did he go undrafted? Shaw battled injuries his whole collegiate career with multiple shoulder and foot surgeries. Scouts say he lacks prototypical measurements to be successful at the NFL level. He played in a catch and throw offenses that covered up his lack of arm strength. However on the flip side, Shaw is an extremely accurate passer who works through the pocket well. A vocal leader on his South Carolina team and showed his toughness playing through many injuries. A proven winner at South Carolina and a great overall person for any locker room, the Browns were shocked to see him go undrafted so they jumped on him right away. Resulting in Young and Tanney getting cut. Shaw will enter Training Camp in competition with Tyler Thigpen for the 3rd Quarterback spot this season. A kid who refuses to lose is hungry for a job and will impress this summer. Verdict: Connor Shaw beats out Tyler Thigpen for 3rd QB position.
  • The additions of Miles Austin and Earl Bennett on Thursday, provides a needed boost to the receiver position. Both are veterans who have contributed solid career numbers and will be able to make a steady contribution. Austin had pro bowl years in both ‘09 and ‘10 eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark in both seasons. Since then he has struggled to stay healthy, most recently this past season he had a nagging hamstring issue that kept him sidelined for a decent amount of 2013. If Austin is at full health the Browns have found a consistent starting receiver, while he is no Josh Gordon he is capable of playing a big role in the offense. The other addition is Earl Bennett is another capable, steady receiver who is sure handed. A true possession, move the chain type receiver Bennett will run crisp routes and most importantly catch the football. In ’13 Bennett ranked 3rd in the league in catch percentage at 76.2%. This means every ball thrown Bennett’s way he caught 76.2% of them. Also, Nate Burleson ranked 2nd in this category at 76.5%. The Browns have added veteran receivers who have proven to be reliable and make a solid contribution, something this team didn’t have last year with Davone Bess and Greg Little.
  •   The Browns carry some forgotten sleepers to help solidify the receiver position. They are Tori Gurley and Charles Johnson.   Gurley, undrafted out of South Carolina in 2011 has bounced around practice squads the past three seasons. The Browns kept Gurley around all season long and could potentially be in the mix at WR. Gurley is a massive 6-foot-4, 230lb receiver who could provide a red zone threat for the Browns. With his large size he instantly is a match up nightmare for much smaller corner backs. Gurley has a very long stride which translates to deceptive deep threat. If Gurley can control his lanky body and concentrate catching the football, the Browns have a potential red zone night mare for defenses. The other WR is Charles Johnson. Johnson was a 7th round pick by Green Bay last year out of Grand Valley St. The Browns claimed Johnson off the practice squad midway through the 2013 season only to find he was playing with a torn ACL unknown to Johnson or the Packers. Johnson is a 6-foot-2 215lb athletic freak of nature. He runs a 4.3 40 and has a 40in vertical. He has the ideal makes of a great receiver. There are numerous reports that have said Johnson was the Packers practice squad player of the week, 6 weeks straight all with a torn ACL. Training Camp will be awfully exciting to see a healthy Johnson and see how polished the Browns can make him at receiver. He has all the tools to potentially play a big role for the Browns especially pending the status of Josh Gordon.  Many Browns fans have not heard of either player or have forgotten about both. But you have to wonder how high the Browns are on each considering they didn’t draft a receiver and may be seeking a number 1 and number 2 receivers this season.
  • The Browns finished up Rookie Mini-Camp this weekend and National Media wasn’t permitted to attend. I think the Browns made the right decision. Of course the media wanted to make it the Johnny Manziel Camp, but this was the first time for all the rookies to put on the orange and brown and hit the practice field together. The Browns wanted to keep a low key environment as the rookies got their very first taste of the NFL. A smart decision by the Browns. Don’t worry media you will get enough of Johnny Football this summer when Team Mini-Camp and Training Camp rolls around.

Go Browns!

 

 

 

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