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Jameis Winston on Browns lineman Cam Erving: He'll ball out at any position

Jun 26, 2015 -- 1:23pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Gibbs

Extra Points …

Thanks for the memories: No. 1 overall draft pick Jameis Winston has a lot to be thankful for as he embarks on his NFL career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – and he includes Browns rookie Cameron Erving among his blessings.

“Cam, not only was he my center, but he was my blind side (tackle) as well,” Winston said at the NFL Rookie Symposium Play 60 Youth Clinic at Browns headquarters on Friday. “He’s a great player. He works hard. He’s very excited to be here. I just Facetimed him the other day. He’s just such a great person.

“I thank God every day that he was protecting me at Florida State.”

Erving was the starting left tackle when Winston won the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman and led the Seminoles to the national championship after the 2013 college football season. The following year, Erving moved to center to fill a huge void over the last six games. Florida State fell short of defending its title, losing to Oregon in the seminfinals of the first national college football playoffs.

Erving will begin his first Browns training camp at right guard to compete with John Greco, but he has taken reps at center and left tackle in the team’s offseason practices. Conceivably, he could wind up anywhere on the offensive line.

I asked Winston which is Erving’s best position.

“Everything,” he responded. “Anything he puts his mind to he’s going to ball out.”

Don’t worry, be happy: Winston claimed the top pick in the draft despite well-publicized off-field incidents at Florida State that raised serious questions about his character and maturity. These included a sexual assault accusation, two shoplifting charges and yelling a vulgar comment standing atop a table in the school’s student union.

Winston has strived to change opinion of himself through actions, though he says, “I have nothing to prove.”

“I believe people make mistakes, but I also believe you bounce back from that,” he said.

“My objective is to get better every single day. I’m just going to be happy playing this great game of football. I love it so much. That will be a blessing just playing against an NFL team.

“It’s about my actions. I’ve got to be a quarterback. When I’m off the field I’ve got to be a quarterback. When I’m on the field I’ve got to be a quarterback. And I know that people don’t look at me in each and every way. But I just smile, man.”

Winston has been a lightning rod on social media as a result of his off-field incidents. He said he will continue to interact with Tampa Bay fans through social media, and can easily block out the flood of negative talk about him.

“You don’t look at it,” he said. “You don’t pay attention to it. I’ve had a strong mind this whole process. I’ve been getting hammered for a long time, but the thing is, we keep playing football and I’m blessed to be playing this dream right now. All of us are more worried about our success on the field than what anyone else has negative to say.”

The turtle v. the hare: While Winston and No. 2 overal pick Marcus Mariota of Tennessee will be forced to play immediately with bad teams, Brett Hundley has the luxury of sitting behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Hundley, of UCLA, was hoping to be drafted higher than the fifth round, but his selection by the Super Bowl-contending Packers may benefit him more in the long run than rushing into action as a rookie.

“(Going to) the Packers is a great position for me,” Hundley said. “I never worried about where I would be drafted. It’s all about the opportunity. You never stress about where God puts you. I’m in the right place for a reason. That’s how I take my approach.

“Their history of quarterbacks is the best in the league. They’re the best at grooming a quarterback, developing a quarterback. It’s a great place for me to go and to be groomed into an NFL caliber quarterback – pocket passer, under the center, an original first offense, that’s what it is.

“The NFL is a short opportunity, so when you get your opportunity you’ve got to make the most of it.”

Hundley said he had no contact with the Browns other than a 15-minute interview at the NFL Combine. But that’s exactly the amount of interaction he had with the Packers, too.

On a roll: Speaking of falling into an ideal situation, Westlake-native Jake Ryan moved from St. Ignatius High School to Michigan … and now to Green Bay, where he is competing for a spot at inside linebacker alongside Clay Matthews 3.

Ryan was Green Bay’s 129th overall pick in the fourth round pick -- 18 spots higher than Hundley.

“I love it. Great organization. Class-act guys. Great tradition. Winning seasons all the time. I’m glad to be here. I’m just learning every day,” he said.

Ryan said the connection made between he and Matthews was natural. Matthews was born in Los Angeles when his father, Clay Jr., played for the Browns, and he lived in Cleveland for parts of his first six years. Matthews was switched to inside linebacker by Green Bay last season, and Ryan could compete for some reps next to him along with Sam Barrington, who finished the 2014 season as a starter.

Ryan knows that he’ll have to make his mark early on special teams, an area that probably cost the Packers their shot at winning the NFC last year. He said it didn’t take him long to get a feel for the team’s Super Bowl expectations this season.

“The guys there, that’s what they’re aiming for,” he said. “Coming in as a rookie, you learn to get acquainted with those veterans, know what their expectations are and make them your own. For sure (they talk about the Super Bowl).”

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Best of the new Browns: Quarterbacks

Jun 26, 2015 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP

(One in a series of articles.)

The Morning Kickoff …

Expansion bests: Sixteen seasons since the Browns returned as an expansion franchise after a three-year exile, we have seen one playoff team and two winning seasons – 10-6 in 2007 and 9-8 (counting a playoff loss) in 2002.

The next-best record has been 7-9 (twice). Twelve of the 16 seasons have resulted in 10 or more losses.

But this isn’t to belabor the doldrums of the Browns since 1999. This is to celebrate their best players.

We set out to rank the best Browns by position group.

Quarterback

Failure to find a consistent and productive quarterback – and develop him -- is the bane of the Browns expansion franchise, of course. Twenty-two quarterbacks have started a game for them since 1999. Twenty of them have losing records. One is at .500. Only one went through the Cleveland quarterback-eating machine with a winning record. That merits No. 1 on this list.

5. Jake Delhomme, 2010: A high ankle sprain in his first game limited his only season with the Browns to four starts, of which he won two, qualifying as the second-best win percentage among 22 starting quarterbacks since 1999. He spent most of his season driving his successor to work and trying to coach up young Colt McCoy. Thanks to the generosity of President Mike Holmgren, Delhomme hauled in about $8 million for his four game appearances. That was in addition to a $12.8 million guranteed payout that year from the Carolina Panthers, his former team. Cha-ching!

4. Kelly Holcomb, 2001-04: In the Browns’ only playoff appearance, he threw for 429 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort in the snow against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The shockingly good outing earned him the starting job in 2003, whereupon Holcomb fell into line, got hurt, and lost six of his eight starts.

3. Derek Anderson, 2006-09: Tall and big-armed, he delivered a storybook season in 2007, winning 10 of 15 games and earning a Pro Bowl berth as an alternate. The out-of-the-blue performance earned contract extensions for himself, GM Phil Savage, coach Romeo Crennel and coordinator Rob Chudzinski. When the clock struck midnight, Anderson lost 10 of his last 16 games, was jeered after an injury, and ultimately left with one of the nastiest exit interviews – “They don’t deserve a winner!” he wrote of Browns fans in an email. His 16 career wins (v. 18 losses) are the second-most among expansion-era QBs.

2. Tim Couch, 1999-2003: The first overall pick of the new Browns, he suffered a poor supporting cast and repeated injuries while winning 22 games (v. 37 losses) in five years. Two of the victories were on final-play Hail Mary passes, making him the unofficial NFL career leader in this category. Arizona coach Bruce Arians, Couch’s position coach who also coached Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, has said that Couch was “one of the toughest, best players” he’s ever coached.

1. Brian Hoyer, 2013-14: His 20 months with his hometown team was a ridiculous roller coaster ride that saw him: 1. rise from No. 3 to win his first two starts, 2. tear an ACL in his third start, 3. rehab the injury and stave off Johnny Manziel to win six of his first nine games to put the Browns in a first-place tie while the GM reportedly texted coaches during games to yank him, 4. lose three of his last four games and, 5. fail to receive a contract offer from the team – or a face-to-face interview with the GM. Ultimately, Hoyer’s 10-6 record as a starter – 9-6 if you eliminate the game in which he suffered the knee injury – is the best of the new Browns’ quarterbacks.

Honorable mention: None.

On a lighter note: Jeff Garcia’s one season of 2004 was perhaps the most eventful year of any of the 22 quarterbacks. He is the only quarterback to post a win in a season-opener. He completed a never-to-be-surpassed 99-yard pass play for a touchdown. And he registered a 0.00 passer rating in a game against the Dallas Cowboys before departing with three years left on his free agent contract.

 

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Best of the new Browns: Defensive backs

Jun 25, 2015 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

(One in a series of articles.)

The Morning Kickoff …

Expansion bests: Sixteen seasons since the Browns returned as an expansion franchise after a three-year exile, we have seen one playoff team and two winning seasons – 10-6 in 2007 and 9-8 (counting a playoff loss) in 2002.

The next-best record has been 7-9 (twice). Twelve of the 16 seasons have resulted in 10 or more losses.

But this isn’t to belabor the doldrums of the Browns since 1999. This is to celebrate their best players.

We set out to rank the best Browns by position group.

Defensive secondary

More players from this position group have been selected in the draft (29) than from any other, yet one player who joined the Browns without being drafted ranks near the top.

5. T.J. Ward, 2010-13: An in-the-box safety who could “bring it,” Ward’s jarring hits set a physical tone that every defense covets. Some of his hits resulted in fines as the NFL cracked down on helmet-to-helmet contact and “defenseless receiver” became a part of pro football’s lexicon. He earned a Pro Bowl berth in the last year of his rookie contract and departed to Denver in free agency, to the chagrin of beat reporters who cherished his irrepressible candor.

4. Daylon McCutcheon, 1999-2005: Selected in the third round in the reborn Browns’ first draft in 1999, he started in his first game as a rookie and went on to record 96 starts in 103 games – most of any defensive back in the expansion era.  He was always his team’s best tackler and never shied from contact in the running game. Despite average size (5-10, 190 pounds), he was amazingly durable. One of the expansion era’s most under-rated players, McCutcheon was hired by Jets coach Todd Bowles, his former position coach with the Browns, as an assistant defensive backs coach.

3. Anthony Henry, 2001-04: A fourth-round “find” by Butch Davis, this tall (6-1) cornerback blasted on the scene with 10 interceptions as a rookie, tying for the NFL lead, and set a franchise record with a 97-yard return for a touchdown. His 17 interceptions are most in the Browns expansion era, and he added 14 more in four seasons with Dallas and one with Detroit. He broke the stereotype of the position with almost painful shyness.

2. Tashaun Gipson, 2012-14: One of the best success stories of the expansion era, he developed from undrafted cornerback from Wyoming to Pro Bowl safety in three years, advancing each season under a different position coach and coordinator. Still on the ascent, his 11 interceptions in two seasons as starter established him as a ball-hawk center fielder. But his propensity for big hits makes him a rare dual-purpose deep safety.

1. Joe Haden, 2010-14: The seventh overall pick of the 2010 draft, he came to the Browns at the age of 21 after playing the cornerback position for only three years of organized football. Now he has two Pro Bowl seasons and a contract that made him the richest cornerback in the NFL (for a week, or so). Unlike some of his more heralded peers, Haden has earned his stripes by covering the opponent’s No. 1 receiver game in and out. He is two interceptions shy from taking the franchise lead in the expansion era and legitimately can lay claim to being the Browns’ best defensive player of his time.

Honorable mention: Leigh Bodden, 2003-07; Sheldon Brown, 2010-12; Brian Russell, 2005-06; Corey Fuller, 1999-2002; Buster Skrine, 2011-14; Eric Wright, 2007-10.

On a lighter note: In 2009, one of coach Eric Mangini’s imports from the New York Jets, his former team, was cornerback Hank Poteat. By the time he came to the Browns, his fifth team, at the age of 29, Poteat was a deep reserve, but he was thrust in the role as nickel back that year. Poteat’s most memorable play in his one season resulted in one of the team’s most harrowing losses. After holding a 24-3 lead over the Detroit Lions in Ford Field, the Browns lost, 38-37, after quarterback Matthew Stafford’s failed Hail Mary pass in the end zone resulted in a Poteat interference penalty. Poteat pushed receiver Bryant Johnson out of the end zone away from the ball. He later said he thought the play was legal because Stafford had left the pocket to heave the ball. Stafford followed with a 1-yard TD pass and the Lions converted the PAT – all happening with :00 on the game clock.

 

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns rookie receiver surprised by addition of Terrelle Pryor

Jun 24, 2015 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/ClevelandBrowns

The Morning Kickoff …

Pryor move: The Browns’ stated intent of converting ex-Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor to wide receiver came as a surprise to at least two participants in the NFL Rookie Symposium Play 60 Youth Clinic on Tuesday.

“Yeah,” said Browns rookie receiver Vince Mayle. “But he’s a great athlete, so it’s just bringing more athletes to the room, more competition.”

Former Ohio State receiver Devin Smith said, “I didn’t know about that situation till you told me. He’s got to do what he’s got to do. He’s an athlete. I’m sure it’s not going to be hard for him. It is what it is.”

Two postscripts:

1. Mayle has had the cast removed from his fractured thumb and said he will stay in Berea to continue rehab during the team’s summer vacation. Mayle expects to be full go for the start of Browns training camp. He was frustrated during the Browns OTAs and minicamp with running routes with the cast and knowing he couldn’t handle the ball.

2. Smith, of Akron, said the Browns had interaction with him “throughout the whole process” of the draft, but he was “satisfied” joining the New York Jets. The Jets chose Smith with the 37th overall pick in the second round. The Browns had the 43rd pick and traded down with Houston before selecting Utah pass rusher Nate Orchard with the 51st pick. Smith said, “I’ve got a group of great guys around me, especially in the receivers’ room, like Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and DeVier Posey. So I’m surrounded by a lot of veterans and a lot of smart-minded football people.”

Ifo update: Browns seventh-round pick Ifo Ekpre-Olomu wore a heavy brace on his left knee while interacting with kids at the youth clinic. The cornerback from Oregon was in good spirits despite knowing he is not likely to play in his first NFL season with the Browns.

Ekpre-Olomu suffered a torn ACL and a dislocated knee during a team practice about a week before Oregon’s NCAA semifinal playoff game against Florida State. He had one surgery on Christmas Eve and another less major surgery about two months later.

If not for the injury, Ekpre-Olomu would have been a late first- or early second-round draft pick.

“It’s something I feel like will only make me stronger,” he said.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota said of Ekpre-Olomus, “He’s a great player, a great person. Someone who’s willing to lay it all on the line for his team. I’m happy for him. I think this is a good place for him.”

The Browns were deeply interested in Ekpre-Olomu long before the injury and selected the 5-9, 192-pound cornerback in the seventh round.

“(Browns secondary) coach (Jeff) Hafley was someone real interested in my talent and knew that when I’m back and ready to play I can really contribute to the team,” Ekpre-Olomu said. “I came on a visit here before the draft, met with the coaching staff. They’re happy with my progress so far.”

Ekpre-Olomu isn’t totally resigned to sitting out his first year just yet, but he is realistic.

“Right now I’m really just taking it day by day, working with the physical trainers and physical therapists,” he said. “(Physical therapist) Anthony (Trem), he’s been doing a great job just getting the strength back, and the mobility, in my leg. The running, they say, will come easily once that’s back so right now I’m really focusing on strengthening the quad and hamstring again. I’m not running full speed at all yet. I’m actually going back to California to meet with my doctor and from there he’ll take me to the next step.

“If I can play, I want to play. So that’s going to be up to the head coach and GM. IF not, then I’m going to prepare every day like I’m going to play.

“I do everything everyone else is doing. I just spend extra time in the physical therapy room, so I spend about three hours in the physical therapy room every day and other than that I’m with the team every other second.”

It’s not as if the Browns need to rush Ekpre-Olomu. They are stocked at cornerback with Joe Haden, Tramon Williams, Justin Gilbert, K’Waun Williams, Pierre Desir, Robert Nelson and rookie sixth-round pick Charles Gaines.

“There’s a lot of talent there,” Ekpre-Olomu said.

Marcus clarification: So much was written and said and speculated about the Browns’ interest in Mariota before the draft. Some of the hype was the result of the Browns hiring Kevin O’Connell, Mariota’s pre-draft tutor, as quarterbacks coach.

But Mariota, who wound up going to the Tennessee Titans with the second overall pick, said, “I never had any contact with the Browns.”

The Browns will see Mariota in their home opener against the Titans on Sept. 20. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt has said that plans are for Mariota to start at quarterback in Game 1.

If so, Mariota will lock horns in his NFL game with No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns claim Ohio State quarterback to play receiver

Jun 23, 2015 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/ABC

The Morning Kickoff …

The grand experiment: Browns fans yearning for a new receiver finally got one. Well, sort of.

And those looking forward to adding an Ohio State quarterback also got one. Well, sort of.

The Browns made a surprising move when they claimed Terrelle Pryor, who was waived by the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday after a failed tryout at quarterback.

But the Browns wasted no time in clarifying Pryor’s role in their official announcement.

The second paragraph of the Browns’ announcement stated: Pryor will compete for a roster spot at wide receiver.

The 6-4, 233-pound Pryor has consistently resisted a position change beyond quarterback. But after he was waived by the Bengals, he Tweeted, "Going to miss QB but I will make a great WR!"

According to ESPN, Pryor ticked off the Bengals by posting video of the team’s minicamp practice with him playing quarterback. The video has since been deleted from Pryor’s social media account.

The ESPN report suggested Pryor’s posting of the team practice video contributed to his release. He also had fallen to fourth on the team’s unofficial depth chart behind Andy Dalton, AJ McCarron and Josh Johnson.

Pryor chances: Pryor received the Cincinnati tryout at the invitation of coordinator Hue Jackson, who was the Oakland Raiders head coach when Pryor was selected in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft.

The following year, John DeFilippo rejoined the Raiders as quarterbacks coach for a second stint. DeFilippo is now Browns offensive coordinator.

In 2012, Pryor was 0-1 with the Raiders and completed 14 of 30 passes for two touchdowns and one interception. He also made his only reception as an NFL player for 22 yards.

In 2013, with DeFilippo still as Raiders QB coach, Pryor was 3-6 as Oakland’s starter. He completed 156 of 272 passes for 1,798 yards, and had seven TDs v. 11 interceptions. He also ran for 576 yards and two touchdowns, including a 112-yard rushing game on a day he also threw for 200 yards.

After the 2013 season, Pryor was traded to Seattle for a seventh-round pick. He was released on the final cut and spent that year out of the NFL. He was signed by Kansas City in January, released in May, and then had the tryout in a six-week stint with the Bengals.

Adding Pryor to the receiver mix is a no-risk move by the Browns. Under GM Ray Farmer, they have failed to take advantage of two of the most bountiful receiver drafts in recent vintage while losing franchise record-holder Josh Gordon to an indefinite suspension.

Farmer has tried to patch the position with free agents (Andrew Hawkins, Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline), an undrafted player (Taylor Gabriel) and a fourth-round pick this year (Vince Mayle).

Back to Columbus: Pryor was 31-4 as Ohio State’s starting quarterback from 2008 to 2010. The end of his Buckeye career coincided with the demise of former coach Jim Tressel.

Pryor was ensnarled in the memorabilia scandal that led to Tressel’s resignation in May of 2011. Pryor withdrew from the university in June and then was banned from all contact with Ohio State.

That is what led to him entering the NFL supplemental draft. He is known in Oakland as the last player drafted by Raiders czar Al Davis before his death. The Ohio State scandal also led to the NFL suspending Pryor for five games in 2011.

If Pryor is able to make through a few weeks of Browns training camp, he will return to Columbus on Aug. 7 when the Browns stage a team scrimmage in Ohio Stadium.

On Monday, the Browns announced that all 60,000 tickets allotted for the scrimmage were given to season-ticket holders in a pre-registration access period.

They were gobbled up before news spread of the Browns claiming Pryor off waivers.

So the Browns now have an Ohio State quarterback who isn’t named Cardale Jones and doesn’t play quarterback anymore. Oh, well.

 

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Best of the new Browns: Offensive linemen

Jun 22, 2015 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

(First in a series of articles.)

The Morning Kickoff …

Expansion bests: Sixteen seasons since the Browns returned as an expansion franchise after a three-year exile, we have seen one playoff team and two winning seasons – 10-6 in 2007 and 9-8 (counting a playoff loss) in 2002.

The next-best record has been 7-9 (twice). Twelve of the 16 seasons have resulted in 10 or more losses.

But this isn’t to belabor the doldrums of the Browns since 1999. This is to celebrate their best players.

We set out to rank the best Browns by position group.

Offensive line

It figures that this position would produce many of the Browns’ best players. The franchise has signed 22 linemen as unrestricted free agents and selected another 17 in the draft – including four in the first round. That total of 39 offensive linemen ranks second to defensive backs (45) as the most prolific position group acquired through free agency and the draft.

5. Joel Bitonio, 2014: He was impressive enough to earn a spot on this list after one rookie season.

4. Ryan Tucker, 2002-08: One of two players to start in both Browns’ winning seasons (the other will be noted later in the series), Tucker was a mainstay at right tackle for five seasons and then moved over to right guard for one year. He made 71 total starts in 75 games played. He was an integral lineman on the best Browns’ offensive team of 2007.

3. Eric Steinbach, 2007-10: The Browns gave the former Cincinnati Bengals guard-tackle one of the richest contracts for a lineman in NFL history at the time -- $49.5 million over seven seasons. Steinbach gave the Browns four real good years, starting 62 games at left guard. He probably deserved a Pro Bowl berth at least once, but only was named an alternate on two occasions. A classic pulling guard, he was one of the NFL’s last sub-300-pound linemen.

2. Alex Mack, 2009-14: Eric Mangini’s first draft pick in 2009 started 85 consecutive games and played 5,279 straight snaps until breaking a leg in Game 5 last season against the Steelers. That streak was not broken by an emergency appendectomy in the middle of the 2011 season. A two-time Pro Bowler, he was never better than moving laterally in former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme last year before the injury.

1. Joe Thomas, 2007-14: He is the first offensive lineman in NFL history to earn a Pro Bowl berth in each of his first eight seasons and he has done it playing the demanding left tackle position. He is one year shy of the franchise record of nine Pro Bowls held by Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Lou Groza. His streak of playing in 7,917 consecutive snaps is the longest active in the NFL. He is not only the best football player of the expansion era. He is one of the best players in Browns’ history.

Honorable mention: Center Dave Wohlabaugh, 1999-2002; center Jeff Faine, 2003-05.

On a lighter note: Alphabetically, two of the last five players on the Browns’ all-time roster are expansion linemen – Kent State’s Steve Zahursky (1999-2000) and Paul Zukauskus (2001-04). I remember Zahursky for something else. He was the only lineman on hand for two days of workouts preceding the arrival of the veterans for the 2000 training camp. The Browns had two offensive line coaches that year – one was a part-timer -- so Zahursky received rare 2-on-1 coaching. “We’re coaching him up,” head coach Chris Palmer said.

 

####

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

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