Shurmur: Browns are still seeking help

Browns' biggest need remains at the linebacker position.

For two years the Browns have said they can't plug all their leaks in one draft, or even two drafts, so now they are going to wait around to pick from the leftovers from the 31 other teams.

Specifically, the Browns are thin at linebacker. The Browns did not select a linebacker in either of the last two drafts and in those same two years signed only one, Scott Fujita, in free agency.

Not surprisingly, there is figuratively a help-wanted sign hanging in the portion of the locker room where the linebackers dress. The Browns are likely to wait for roster cuts across the league to pick one up.

"With the roster the way it is now, we have some of those situations lined up," Coach Pat Shurmur said. "We're looking for the best players at all positions. There's a chance there could be guys playing on other teams that might be here, so we'll see."

The starters are set with D'Qwell Jackson inside and Fujita and Chris Gocong outside. Experience thins out after that.

Brian Smith, Benjamin Jacobs and Sidney Tarver, all undrafted rookies, are listed behind Fujita at strong side linebacker.

Kaluka Maiava, a third-year player who missed 14 games last season, is second team behind Gocong. Maiava started against the Packers because Gocong has been sidelined with a neck stinger. Gocong could be back for the Lions on Friday.

General Manager Tom Heckert has been more aggressive stocking wide receivers, but not by much. Carlton Mitchell was drafted in the sixth round last year and Greg Little was taken in the second round in 2011, but the position is still thin and without a dominant player in the group.

Wide receiver has been an issue in training camp because Mohamed Massaquoi was wearing a calf-high cast on his left foot after a bone chip was discovered. He has since shucked the cast and is now wearing a shoe. If all goes well he will play against the Lions in the second preseason game.

"Mo will be our No. 1 receiver - I expect him to be," Browns president Mike Holmgren said. "He would be able to practice (this) week, I would think. That's what I'm counting on."

Holmgren added another nugget while saying he has faith in the Browns young receivers - a group that includes Brian Robiskie, Josh Cribbs, Jordan Norwood and Little as well as Massaquoi.

"The offense will be more wide receiver friendly," Holmgren said. "We're awfully young there. In a perfect world I would like to increase the pile with a veteran. I think that's important."

The Browns might wait until cuts are made to add a wide receiver. They did not pursue one in free agency.

Cornerback was a thin position at the start of training camp, but the Browns solved that problem by signing Dmitri Patterson, who last year played with the Eagles. Patterson won't move past Joe Haden or Sheldon Brown as a starter, but he is the front-runner to take over the nickel spot. That job became vacant when Eric Wright signed with the Lions.

Rookie fifth-round cornerback Buster Skrine is pushing Patterson for playing time. Skrine uses his 4.29 speed to make up for mistakes.


--Brandon Jackson played four years for the Packers and never lost a fumble. Nor was he ever flagged for a penalty. He was not a regular until he started 13 games last year, but he carried 347 times with the Pack, so no fumbles lost is something for Jackson to hang his helmet on.

--Gone from practice is the blaring music former coach Eric Mangini blasted during practice to simulate crowd noise. A survey of neighbors around the practice field in the Cleveland suburb of Berea indicates the silence, save an occasional shout by a coach, is welcome.

Most of the players are glad the music is gone, too.

"I kind of miss it when we're stretching before practice," Josh Cribbs said. "It got our juices flowing."

-- The coaches continue to call rookie Greg Little's number early and often in practice. Little made one of the highlight catches of the week when he leaped at the goal line to haul in a 50-yard pass by Colt McCoy. Usama Young had tight coverage on the play, but Little won the battle.

Little had two catches in the preseason opener vs. Green Bay.

--Pat Shurmur isn't only 1-0 as a head coach after beating the Packers; he's 1-0 on challenges. He challenged what was called a completed pass to Packers receiver Shaky Smithson in the fourth quarter. The call was reversed.


"I think it was a really good day for the first offense. We played hard and we got things done." - Wide receiver Josh Cribbs on the first offense scoring two touchdowns on three possessions vs. Green Bay

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