"Johnny's been great,'' DeFilippo said after the second rookie camp practice Saturday. "He's been fantastic. What he wants to talk about, before he stepped foot back in this building is his business. All I know is Johnny the football player, and he's been awesome. He's been working hard, very hard with myself and (quarterbacks coach Kevin O'Connell), and doing what we want him to do on the field."
Hard enough to become a successful NFL quarterback?
"All I know is this: From the moment he stepped in this building from the last two weeks, he's been nothing but a consummate professional,'' DeFilippo said. "He's spent every hour that he's been allowed to spend in this building. We give them worksheets every Tuesday and every Friday, and they're done to the unbelievable detail that we need an NFL quarterback to do. From that standpoint, like I said I can't predict the future, but all I can do is tell you right now Johnny Manziel is putting himself in a position to be a quarterback in the NFL."
There is certainly opportunity in Cleveland for playing time, but it isn't a great situation for a young quarterback given the unexciting receiving options (namely Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, who combined to catch two touchdowns last season). By all accounts, it does appear that Manziel is on his way to turning his career around. He finished a rehab program, moved to the suburbs and has earned praise from his teammates and coordinator.
Browns coach Mike Pettine revealed Saturday that fourth-round receiver Vince Mayle will undergo surgery after rookie camp on his broken right thumb.
"It should not be an issue in the fall,'' Pettine said after day two of rookie camp. "We wanted him to come out, just see how it was, test it. Found out real quick yesterday that there's still some lingering pain there. So, we're going to go ahead and get it corrected."
Mayle, the only receiver among the Browns' 12 draft picks, injured the thumb during Senior Bowl week in January, but didn't realize it was fractured until he had X-rays at the NFL combine in late February.
The Browns knew about the injury when they drafted Mayle, but were hoping it would heal on its own.
Mayle has a chance to emerge as a contributor if he can pick things up quickly.
Carlson, who was going into his eighth year, wasn’t in training camp, but he had been a daily attendee of the Cardinals’ strength and conditioning program and was on the field Monday when the team opened up Phase 2 on-field workouts. In a statement released by the team, Carlson did not indicate a specific reason for his decision.
"After much thought and consideration, my wife Danielle and I know that this is the best decision for us," Carlson said.
Johnny Manziel is fresh out of a 10-week stay in a rehab facility. McCown is a stable veteran with a career completion percentage near 60. This wasn't difficult.
"We just look back to when he was in Chicago, when he had a pretty good supporting cast around him, and he was able to be more than functional. He had a very successful year," Pettine said on WKRK-FM, via the Beacon Journal. "When you build the team right, it minimizes the importance of the quarterback."
The problem here is that while in Chicago, McCown was throwing to Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett and now he'll be targeting Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline and Rob Housler. That's a serious downgrade at all three positions. McCown didn't play particularly well with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans in 2014, there's no reason to believe that he's going to make a passing game go with Bowe, Hartline and Housler.
Joe Thomas sees a transformation in quarterback Johnny Manziel.
In an exclusive interview with NFL Media's Andrea Kremer, Cleveland's Pro Bowl left tackle heaped praise on Johnny after saying earlier this month that the Browns passer "lost probably a lot of trust" among teammates with the way he handled himself as a rookie.
"The way he is now is night and day from last year," Thomas said Tuesday. "He has a bright future ahead of him."
Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden told Kremer that Manziel has been a workhorse around the facility, staying later to study the new offense.
"He has the it-factor. He has what you can't teach," said Haden, adding: "Actions speaking louder than words. He's putting forth those actions. That's all he can do."
The Browns need a quarterback, and maybe Manziel can turn his career around after a very disappointing rookie season. Drawing praise from players like Thomas and Haden is a good start.
Even though the Browns have revamped their passing game with wide receivers Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe, coach Mike Pettine has been clear Cleveland will go as far as Crowell – and fellow rookie Terrance West – can take them.
Instead of developing a rivalry for who gets the most carries, Crowell and West have embraced each other, and have even made a pact together. Somehow they kept it under the social media radar, but Crowell flew up to Baltimore this offseason to get some workouts in with West, and, in turn, West flew down to Atlanta.
That pact? Both Crowell and West want to rush for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Crowell said the offense is generally similar to last season’s scheme, but there will be distinctions.
Two hints from Crowell: The pass protection is different and we will see him more as a receiver out of the backfield.
Once the Browns were done with Ben Tate (Week 11), Crowell out-touched Terrance West 90 to 68 over the final seven games, but West had the last laugh, turning 20 touches into 106 yards and a TD against the Ravens in Week 17. (A seemingly healthy Crowell touched the ball five times for 22 yards.) The Cleveland running backs averaged 26.6 carries per game, so if the new offense does indeed feature the backs as receivers, there should be 30 or so touches for Crowell and West to split each week. Last season, HC Mike Pettine was handing out touches based on practice performance, so Crowell's current ADP (in the 5th round) seems steep given his uncertain workload and Cleveland's projected offensive struggles.
Browns TE Rob Housler, 27, confirmed the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals were interested in signing him, but he said he ultimately chose the Browns partly because of the opportunities he expects to receive in new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s scheme. Housler emphasized the coach affectionately known as “Flip” wants to move him around a lot in the offense and feature him as a vertical threat in the middle of the field.
“It was a big factor,” Housler said of weighing the pass-catching opportunities each of his suitors would likely grant him. “I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum where I’ve been a part of targets and a part of the flow and rhythm of the offense, and I’ve seen where it goes other ways. For me, I want to be a big part of the offense. So that was a big consideration. I’m confident in my ability, and I just want to be able to contribute.”
Housler should get plenty of chances as the Browns try to compensate for losing Cameron, whom they attempted to re-sign before he bolted to Miami.
Housler signed a one-year deal with aligns with his expectation that he'll be a big part of the offense. He has great athleticism for his position, but so far that athleticism hasn't translated to on-field production. Part of the problem is that he was an afterthought in the Arizona offense, but it sounds as if the Browns intend to utilize his speed down the seam.
A breakthrough season would be improving on the 84 receptions for 758 yards and 5 TDs he had last year as a rookie. There’s a good chance that happens now that TE Charles Clay and WRs Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson are gone. Tannehill is familiar with Landry, and Landry showed he’s got good NFL skills. He’s got good hands and can get YAC (Yards After Catch).
Landry was the #42 WR in standard formats and #30 in PPR, so as a high-volume slot receiver, he's going to have more value in PPR formats. The Dolphins lost four of their top six most-targeted players: Mike Wallace, Charles Clay, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. They have been replaced by Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron, but Landry's role should expand as well. He only played 62 percent of the snaps on the season, and didn't start playing consistent starter's snaps until Week 9. Over the final nine weeks, Landry was the #15 WR in PPR formats (and #23 in standard). He is currently the 24th WR off the board in early PPR drafts.
Housler, 27, recorded 84 catches and 871 yards from 2012 through 2013, but he saw limited targets in 15 games for the Arizona Cardinals last season, with only nine receptions and 129 yards.
Housler has one career touchdown in 55 games. He has elite speed for his position, recording a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the 2011 NFL combine, helping him secure a third-round selection in that year's draft.
The Browns were in need of help at the position after Jordan Cameron signed a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins earlier this offseason. The Browns' current depth chart at tight end also includes Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge, who combined for 30 catches and 398 yards and zero touchdowns, so Housler has a chance to emerge as the team's TE1. This isn't likely to make him a fantasy starter, however.
Saturday, April 4, 2015, 8:16pm
Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot answered a question about whether the team is already looking to move on from QB Johnny Manziel.
Cabot: Based on conversations with the Browns at the NFL annual meeting last week, I really don't believe they're ready to give up on Johnny Manziel after only seven quarters of work. For starters, they don't even know what they have in Manziel until he gets out of rehab -- likely sometime this week -- and they want to see if he can live up to his first-round status once he has his personal life under control. Browns general manager Ray Farmer stressed that he believes Manziel has the physical tools to excel in the NFL.
Kabot added that Farmer also believes Manziel will flourish in the Browns' play-action, run-oriented scheme when the team doesn't have to rely on him to carry it. There is some thought that the offense changed too drastically when Manziel played, and that it threw off the entire unit. What's more, the Browns now have one of Manziel's mentors in Kevin O'Connell as their quarterbacks coach. Manziel thrived and improved in the few months he spent with O'Connell before the draft last year, and the Browns are confident he can bring out the best in Manziel.
It was a tale of two seasons for Watkins, who averaged 4.8 catches for 74 yards and 0.63 TD in the first eight games; he was the #12 fantasy WR going into his team's Week 9 bye. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged 3.4 catches for 49 yards and 0.13 TD, and was the #48 WR from Week 10 to Week 17. The timing of his hip injury (Week 13 vs. CLE) is interesting, because Watkins was already in a slump, posting just 10 catches for 94 yards in the three previous games. Matt Cassel brings some stability at quarterback, but he's no better than Kyle Orton, so we're not expecting a huge jump for Watkins in OC Greg Roman's run-oriented offense.
"I think you would think that I might get a whole lot more outside reps now just because Maclin is gone, but I already had talked to coaches, and they were already going to implement me more on the outside as opposed to just the inside regardless," Matthews said. "I don't think that's a crazy, huge deal."
HC Chip Kelly said last week that he can envision Matthews playing "a lot of different spots." Kelly kept Matthews in the slot because they wanted him to learn only one position as a rookie. Now that Matthews is more comfortable entering his second season, that role can expand.
If Matthews moves outside, he'll surely see his snaps played increase from his rookie season (65%) and he should be able to improve on his #25 finish in PPR formats. The team signed Miles Austin, who played mostly in the slot while with the Cowboys. Josh Huff and Zach Ertz could also see snaps in the slot.
Austin finished with 47 catches for 568 yards and two touchdowns, but missed four games due to a kidney injury. Over a full season his stats extrapolate to 63-757-2.7, which equate to fringe WR4-type numbers in PPR formats. This is certainly a system upgrade in Philadelphia. It's not clear what Austin's role will be, but he has plenty of experience playing in the slot from his days in Dallas, so the Eagles could elect to move Jordan Matthews outside. Austin figures to be fantasy relevant, though his days as a starter are probably over.
Bowe should start opposite Brian Hartline with Andrew Hawkins manning the slot. He hasn't finished in the top 40 since 2011, and while his QB play in Kansas City wasn't great, it's not like Josh McCown is an upgrade over Alex Smith. We're expecting more disappointing numbers from Bowe in 2015.
He'll join a receiving corps that already includes Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin, so targets may be tough to come by, especially when the Bills go run-heavy under OC Greg Roman and HC Rex Ryan. Roman's (lack of) usage of Vernon Davis while with the 49ers is not a good sign for Clay. In Miami, Jordan Cameron gets a boost as the Dolphins' primary tight end. Clay was #10 in targets per game (6.0) last season. Cameron could be even more involved than Clay.
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