Sunday, July 5, 2015, 9:00pm
There’s no clearer sign that running back Trent Richardson’s career has not gone as planned than the fact that he’s starting his fourth NFL season on his third team after being the third overall pick by the Browns in the 2012 draft.
If there’s an optimistic spin to put on Richardson signing with the Raiders after an ineffective pair of years in Indianapolis following a trade with Cleveland for a first-round pick, it’s that Richardson will get a fresh start with a new coaching staff. While discussing all of the team’s options at running back, offensive line coach Mike Tice said that the Alabama product has made a good early impression in Oakland.
“Each one has their own style,” Tice said on Sirius XM NFL Radio, via the Raiders website. “I like the [Latavius] Murray kid. He really came on in that veteran mini-camp. He got his legs under him and showed some quickness, some good finish. I thought the young man out of Alabama came on. He lost some weight, his quickness came around.”
Thanks to Murray, Richardson is way down our RB list at 97. Richardson hasn’t gotten high marks on quickness in his first two stops in the NFL, making Tice’s observation a step in the right direction for a player who hasn’t taken enough of them in the last three years, the story said. The Raiders also have Roy Helu, so Richardson will have to battle for playing time.
Browns HC Mike Pettine broke the tight end group down this way: “We really have two different types of tight ends. The ‘Y’ is more the on the ball, blocker type where that’s [Jim Dray] and [Gary Barnidge]. The F is more of a move type, off the ball, more of a wing. You can flex him out some. Gary is kind of a ‘tweener.’ He can do both. We just like the depth in the room. We have three guys that they’re not identical skillsets there. There’s some overlap. Gary, like I said, is kind of both. Jim is more towards the ideal ‘Y,’ and [Rob Housler] is more the ideal ‘F.’”
Housler could be fantasy relevant if he sees starter snaps as a move tight end. He wasn’t given much to do in Bruce Arians’ offense while in Arizona, but he has a good skill set for a "move" tight end.
Monday, June 29, 2015, 1:41pm
Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot answered a question about the team using Terrelle Pryor as a TE and/or a WR.
Cabot: The Browns will work Pryor primarily at wide receiver, but if he demonstrates he can play tight end, I can see them giving him a shot there too based on his size (6-4, 233) and athleticism. Most of the skill players line up at various spots anyway, so the lines are definitely blurred. I'm guessing that [offensive coordinator John DeFilippo] was willing to give Pryor a chance because he worked with him in Oakland and got the most of him that anyone in the NFL has as a dual-threat quarterback.
As Cabot says, it's worth a shot. But it could be a difficult transition to receiver, or TE, for Pryor, especially in such a compressed time frame.
Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson was a week from returning to the Vikings' roster after a three-game suspension for drunken driving, when ESPN reported on Sept. 18 that Simpson had been cited in July for misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving with an open bottle. The Vikings released Simpson later that day, and signed Charles Johnson off the Cleveland Browns' practice squad the next day.
It seemed at the time like a move to replenish the Vikings' wide receiver depth with a known commodity -- quarterbacks coach Scott Turner had been Johnson's position coach the previous year in Cleveland -- but Johnson was less than a year removed from knee surgery, and didn't play more than 20 snaps in a game until Nov. 16. From that point on, though, he caught 25 passes for 415 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and supplanted Cordarrelle Patterson as the team's "X" receiver.
"He was recovering from that knee surgery a year ago and I don't know that he was ever 100 percent," offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. "I think he's 100 percent. He's got great work ethic, and he's a big, strong guy. He's a 218-pound receiver that can run. He's got everything you need to be a productive player in this league."
In organized team activities and minicamp, there was no mystery about where Johnson figured in the Vikings' plans, the story went on to say. He was lined up at split end all spring, and teamed with Mike Wallace and Jarius Wright in the team's three receiver sets. According to ESPN, 33 of Johnson's 58 targets were at least 10 yards downfield, and 13 of those 58 were 20 or more yards downfield. Johnson worked out in Southern California with Bridgewater and a number of the Vikings' receivers this offseason, and also spent time in Houston with Rischad Whitfield, the "Footwork King" who has counted Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins among his clients. Johnson is one of 4for4.com Senior Editor John Paulsen's potential sleepers this year. We rank him 37th on our WR list and he looks to be in a good situation with the offense under OC Norv Turner and a developing QB in Bridgewater.
Bernard’s name came up last week and Johnson appeared to welcome the comparison. Future NFL Hall of Fame running back LaDanian Tomlinson made that exact same comparison, too, during his pre-draft analysis on the NFL Network. And when you break down their measurables and numbers from the Combine, you start to understand why.
Bernard is 5-foot-9 and 208 pounds. Johnson is 5-foot-9 and 210 pounds. Bernard ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds. Johnson did his in 4.54. Both players are undersized but are tough enough to pick up yards between the tackles. And both can definitely make you pay as a receiver out of the backfield, as Bernard racked up 43 receptions for 349 yards in his second season with the Bengals while Johnson had 38 for 421 -- in three fewer games -- during his final season at Miami.
The Cleveland running game is murky at best. The team has two second-year players, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West, who both had fantasy-relevant moments last season, but they added Johnson to the mix in the Draft. He’s the best receiver of the bunch, so he should have a role on third-down at the very least. But he’s capable of stealing carries as well. The Browns should have a good running game, but it’s going to be a headache trying to project these three on a week-to-week basis. We believe that Johnson is the best bet in PPR formats.
Fantasy football fanatics and anxious Browns fans are wondering: Will it be Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson or Terrance West carrying the torch Sept. 13 against the New York Jets? The Browns view all three as legitimate threats with the rock in their hand, but there is no clear favorite in guessing who will lead Cleveland in carries in December.
“I like to go with the guy that has the hot hand. If a guy’s got the hot hand, ride it out,” DeFilippo said. “You’re going to have some gameplan-specific plays for certain guys like a Duke Johnson where you want to get him out on a pass route or running a certain outside zone or whatever. I’m a big believer in the best five offensive linemen up front. I’m a big believer in a guy’s got a hot hand you keep riding him. That’s kind of just a philosophy that I have.”
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 team drafted Duke Johnson and last season HC Mike Pettine was handing out touches based on practice performance, so Crowell's current 6th round ADP seems steep given his uncertain workload and Cleveland's projected offensive struggles.
Cleveland Browns Daily hosts Nathan Zegura and Matt Wilhelm did not sugarcoat their feelings for Taylor Gabriel: They both think he’s been the best wide receiver on the team during the offseason program and that he could shatter the 621 receiving yards he posted as a rookie.
We've updated our projections for Johnson since he's generating so much buzz in the passing game. We now have him for 45 catches for 294 yards, which makes him a low-end RB3 in PPR formats. He has upside from there if he turns into a Darren Sproles/Danny Woodhead type. The Browns didn't throw the ball much to their running backs last season, but there's a new offensive coordinator in town, so anything could happen. His ADP is currently in the 8th round.
Saturday, June 13, 2015, 1:31am
With quarterback Josh McCown standing tall in the shotgun formation, Johnson and Crowell flanked both of his sides. McCown sent Crowell in motion to the far right as a receiver, causing confusion among Cleveland’s linebackers. McCown hiked the ball, faked a pass toward Crowell and, instead, dumped it off on a screen play to Johnson, who bolted into the end zone for a touchdown.
The play design was complex, but the combination of Crowell and Johnson on the field together was more intriguing. Crowell’s powerful stride and bruising style combined with Johnson’s shiftiness and burst is a mixture that screams potential.
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 team drafted Duke Johnson and last season HC Mike Pettine was handing out touches based on practice performance, so Crowell's current 6th round ADP seems steep given his uncertain workload and Cleveland's projected offensive struggles. In PPR formats, we'd rather pull the trigger on Johnson since it looks like the team is trying to find ways to get him on the field as much as possible.
Duke Johnson has been the most impressive of their RBs. Versatility and explosiveness shows. Will be an interesting RB camp battle.
The Cleveland running game is murky at best. The team has two second-year players, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West, who both had fantasy-relevant moments last season, but they added Johnson to the mix in the Draft. He’s the best receiver of the bunch, so he should have a role on third-down at the very least. But he’s capable of stealing carries as well. The Browns should have a good running game, but it’s going to be a headache trying to project these three on a week-to-week basis. Still, Johnson is a good target for the "wait on RB" crowd since he's going in the 9th round.
Maclin was the #9 wide receiver in both standard and PPR formats last season, though he faded down the stretch. Now he’ll have Alex Smith as his quarterback and should dominate the targets along with up-and-coming TE Travis Kelce. HC Andy Reid is very familiar with Maclin, so we would expect his transition to be a smooth one, though this is a system downgrade. Maclin averaged 4.6 catches for 61 yards and 0.50 TD (solid WR2-type numbers) from 2010-2012, while playing for Reid. One concern: Chiefs’ WR1 Dwayne Bowe only averaged 6.3 T/G in 2014, while Maclin averaged 9.0 T/G for the Eagles. Maclin is a much better player, so the Chiefs should target him more than they did Bowe, but it’s something to weigh when evaluating his fantasy value.
Browns HC Mike Pettine described the running backs as a motivated, talented, deep group, which includes second-year players Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West as well as rookie Duke Johnson. Farmer praised Johnson’s playmaking ability and supreme confidence. “I think he’s going to be tremendous for us,” Farmer said of the third-round pick.
The Cleveland running game is murky at best. The team has two second-year players, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West, who both had fantasy-relevant moments last season, but they added Johnson to the mix in the Draft. He’s the best receiver of the bunch, so he should have a role on third-down at the very least. But he’s capable of stealing carries as well. The Browns should have a good running game, but it’s going to be a headache trying to project these three on a week-to-week basis.
Sunday, June 7, 2015, 9:35am
Browns coach Mike Pettine says that veteran quarterback Josh McCown is exactly the kind of player the Browns need to hold the position until they can find the quarterback who will lead their franchise for years to come.
“Until you feel you’ve found what you would call a long-term solution [at quarterback], I don’t think we could have done any better than bringing in a guy like Josh McCown,” Pettine said. “To me, time will tell, but there’s so much that he does behind the scenes that people just can’t appreciate from everything you talk about — leadership, all the intangible stuff. He’s truly a team guy. He’s all about winning football games. It’s like having another coach on the field, and it’s all genuine. That’s the thing you like the most. Despite his age, people that have been at practice agree, he can still spin it. We didn’t just look to bring in a guy who was just going to be a mentor. We wanted a guy who we think can still play a little bit if you put him in the right circumstances. He’s been more than advertised.”
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