CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Terry Pluto's Talkin ...
About the Browns ...
1. As training camp approaches, the Browns really are determined to give both quarterbacks a chance to win the job. The coaching staff believes a major key to the position is handling pressure, and they plan to put Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson under the most pressure possible, especially in practice. Over and over, the coaches have talked about the need for the QB to get the team lined up correctly, have control of the huddle, make the proper calls at the line of scrimmage and to make the proper adjustment when the first receiver is not open.
2. An executive from a rival AFC team told me: "The Browns are the only team in the North [Division] that doesn't have a big-time quarterback. Ben [Roethlisberger] has two Super Bowl rings. When Carson Palmer is healthy, he is one of the best. The kid in Baltimore [Joe Flacco] may end up being really good. If you're the Browns, you have to play those guys six times. And Baltimore and Pittsburgh also have great defenses."
3. More from the executive: "Derek Anderson can throw down field, but his touch on short passes isn't good. He will stretch the defense, but does he bring the intangibles that you want from the position? Quinn has those intangibles, but if we play him, we're putting eight guys [in the box] and daring him to throw down field. That takes away their running game, unless Brady can make the throws. I'm not sure who is the best bet for them."
4. The executive also said Browns fans should not "get bothered" about all the Jets' role players coming to town: "Eric [Mangini] wants his guys in there to help with the toughness and discipline. It makes sense. The problem is other than Shaun Rogers, they have no real impact players on defense. Actually, the one Cleveland player who scares us the most is [Joshua] Cribbs, because he is so good on special teams."
5. The Browns are looking at Cribbs as a receiver, and certainly a kickoff returner. But they have been talking about Jerome Harrison as a punt returner. They are expected to look at it in the preseason. They want to find ways to get Harrison the ball more. They also believe using Harrison as a punt returner can save physical wear on Cribbs if they use him more on offense. Have not heard anything about Cribbs on defense yet.
6. Getting it right: Last week, I wrote the Browns paid Donte Stallworth the roster bonus of $4.5 million the day before his accident because they were desperate for receivers. Turns out, they had to pay Stallworth the bonus, it was guaranteed as part of the contract. The only way to avoid it was to trade him -- and this spring, no teams were interested. Anderson, Rogers and Jamal Lewis also had contracts in which their roster bonuses for this season were basically guaranteed.
7. The Browns believe that nearly as important as finding the right QB is getting better play out of the receivers. They need Braylon Edwards to return to something approaching his Pro Bowl 2007 season and provide a big-play threat. If Edwards can do that, the Browns think Mike Furrey can help as a slot receiver. They consider receptions for first down a key stat, especially in third-down situations. In 2006, 54 of Furrey's 98 catches were for first downs. In 2007, it was 37-of-61. Last season, he played only nine games and caught 18 passes. They liked what they saw from the 32-year-old in minicamps.
8. It's too early to say much about rookie receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie. Like the QBs, the Browns want to see the rookie receivers under pressure and getting tackled. Robiskie had some excellent practices and some just so-so. Massaquoi had some good flashes. The Browns need at least one of these guys to become a viable player by the opener.