Aug 19, 2010
Believe it or not, there is still an NFL team in Cleveland, and Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer is one of the reporters covering the Browns there. She spoke with Matt Camp and me on Sirius XM Fantasy Football this past weekend about the Browns, and the outlook for the 2010 season with new team president Mike Holmgren at the helm.
Mary Kay Cabot covers the Browns for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer (@MaryKayCabot on Twitter):
Cabot told us what we presumed: rookie Montario Hardesty was supposed to be the team’s feature back, but the sprained knee he suffered early in camp has caused him to miss about all of training camp. That’s a blow for the Browns’ plans. They absolutely need Hardesty to get back on the field and get some live reps before they entrust a big role to him. However, Hardesty has used the time off to brush up on the playbook, attend meetings, and get the mental aspect of his reps down, so Cabot thinks he isn’t as far behind as he possibly could be. Cabot doesn’t know if he’s capable of being on the field come Week One in the capacity the Browns envisioned, but he is expected to handle reps as soon as he’s healthy enough.
If Hardesty isn’t ready from the top of the season, Jerome Harrison, who finished the year strong, is “the guy,” according to Cabot. But the Browns drafted Hardesty for a reason, and they do believe Harrison is a limited player in terms of handling a full workload. Without Hardesty in the lineup, we can expect to see a little bit more of second-year player James Davis, who had a nice preseason debut, but Cabot believes we could also see Peyton Hillis in kind of a “Jumbo” backfield with FB Lawrence Vickers. The depth here is actually a strength for the Browns.
Switching to the passing game, Cabot reminds us that the Browns aren’t completely 100% committed to QB Jake Delhomme yet (or, at least, that’s what coach Eric Mangini has said). The Browns did give backup Seneca Wallace reps with the first-team offense in their preseason opener, and he’s going to have a role in this offense whether Delhomme is the starting QB or not. Cabot called it a “contingency plan” in case Delhomme resembles his 2009 self. What’s evident, though, is that the Browns don’t view rookie QB Colt McCoy as a solution for this season yet. And for those concerned, McCoy did suffer a hand injury in the preseason opener, but X-rays were negative and he should be fine going forward.
Speaking of Wallace, the Browns have been using him in practice with WR/KR Josh Cribbs in sort of a “Wildcat squared” type of formation. The point is that defenses simply don’t know who to account for if both Wallace and Cribbs are in the backfield at the same time. Cribbs has been effective in the Wildcat in recent seasons, and Cabot insists Cribbs has made strides as a pure receiver this off-season, and he’s developed some chemistry with Wallace. If Delhomme struggles, there’s a chance we see more of the “Wildcat squared” than the Browns intend, but it’s a bird in hand of sorts.
At the WR position, Cabot confirms that Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie have been running as the first-team WRs all off-season, and they’re counting on Robiskie to contribute “early and often.” Robiskie was expected to nail down a possession role as a rookie last year, but Massaquoi (who was drafted after Robiskie) was clearly readier for NFL action, which took the Browns by surprise and made Robiskie look bad. Robiskie has used that as motivation heading in to 2010, so he’s could make a few plays.
Elsewhere, Cabot believes TE Ben Watson is going to become a favorite target of Delhomme and Wallace, and the Browns are viewing Watson’s addition as a huge upgrade, even though young Evan Moore provided a spark late last season. Delhomme loves Watson’s knack for finding a void in the defense, and he’s expected to have a more consistent role than he did over the span of his career with the Patriots.