News on the Rooks and More

It may be the off-season and all is quiet, but training camp is on the horizon and we have some goods to share.

Quarterbacks school has come and gone and two mini-camp sessions later, the Browns have a clearer vision of the team.

If there was any question as to the support, backing and belief in quarterback Tim Couch, the Browns recent practice sessions should have put to bed any thought that Couch isn't looked upon as the man to lead this team, according to a team source.

"Tim has done everything that you could imagine. He is a leader, he is vocal, spends endless hours in the weight and film rooms and communicates well with his teammates," the source said. "Butch (Davis) hs openly spoke about Tim, in the locker room and in the media, he isn't posturing, he sincerely believes that Tim will lead this team to the Super Bowl, much sooner than later."

"And I mean Super Bowl. The belief of this organization is the team is much closer than many believe. If we can maintain our health and continue to progress as a team and with our young kids, we have something special in the making."

With the organization solidly behind Couch, a battle at the running back position is assured.

Many rumors have persisted that the Browns and players on the team were somewhat questioning the work habits of first round draft choice William Green. While there has been whispers that Green was missing too much time at this important time of the year for rookie players, the team has taken a different stance according to team sources.

"We were disappointed that Green wasn't able to participate in all the drills in the initial mini-camp, but we are looking at this in the long-term, getting him healthy (pulled calf) was our primary concern," the source said. "It hasn't been like he hasn't participated. He worked in the quarterbacks camp, the second mini-camp, and is staying here (in Cleveland) to get additional instruction and work in."

"With William past the calf and groin issues, he looked tremendous in practice. He has a tremendous burst and should compliment our running game and offense well. He is being looked at as a franchise type running back that is going to get the ball."

Speaking on the offense, the competition going into training camp is going to be as fierce and competitive as has been viewed in Cleveland since the return of the team.

At the present time, the offensive left guard and right guard positions are expected to field some serious field wars. Veteran Barry Stokes, a free agent acquisition from the Green Bay Packers is expected to be the starter at the left guard spot. Brad Bedell and Shaun O'Hara are expected to challenge for the starting role.

The right guard position will be one of intense interest of the team in training camp. Oft-injured Tre' Johnson was resigned by the team in the off-season, with hopes of regaining the form that made him a pro-bowl player with the Washington Redskins.

Johnson has told this column that he is as healthy as he has been in the past few years and is eager to contribute and battle on the field. Expected to battle Johnson for the starting role is Paul Zukauskas and rookie Melvin Fowler.

Roger Chanoine is looked upon at the present time as a backup at left tackle and right tackle. Richard Mercier can play both guard and center positions and will compete as a versatile reserve.

Rookies Joaquin Gonzalez, Quasim Mitchell and Konrad Dean have been progressing very well according to those close to the team and are looked upon as the future offensive linemen of the Cleveland Browns. 


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