Owl: A Smooth Receiver

When free agency started three months ago, the Browns moved quickly and decisively to acquire Seattle WR Joe Jurevicius. Today, our feathered columnist examines why he feels the Lake Catholic product is the perfect fit for the 2006 Browns.

Since the season ended and the Browns made it clear they didn't want to go through another season babysitting Antonio Bryant, the Owl has been critical of the decision. I mean, how could the team that had so much trouble crossing the goal line give up a 1,000-yard receiver?

Well, after a weekend of watching Joe Jurevicius, if I could have only one of them, I'll take Jurevicius. One word Coach Romeo Crennel used to describe Jurevicius during the minicamp says it all: Smooth.

No one questioned Bryant's skill as a receiver, and while fans bemoaned his dropped passes, Crennel and General Manager Phil Savage were not as frustrated with Bryant's physical mistakes as they were with his attitude.

  Bryant is 24. He is a me-first type player. The Browns did not want that rubbing off on Braylon Edwards. As it was, there were not enough footballs to go around for Bryant, Edwards and a healthy Kellen Winslow. This much is certain: There is no way Bryant has 1,000 yards in 2006 had he stayed with the Browns, and what would he have been like to deal with then? The Browns did not want to find out.

Jurevicius' ego could be hidden under a flea's foot. Everybody he has played for, whether in high school, college or the pros, talks about what a team player Jurevicius is. He has been to the Super Bowl with three different teams, and though he might not have been the main reason his team went in any of the three trips, he was a big reason reach time. The Buccaneers especially hated to see him leave. He also went to the Super Bowl with the Giants and then last year with Seattle.

"I understand my job is to come here and help this team win, whether it's catching footballs or blocking downfield or helping the younger guys and maybe answering a question for them," Jurevicius said. "I've never been a guy worried about being 1, 2 or 3 (receiver). Catches will come. Blocking will come. Big plays will come."I get just as excited watching Braylon Edwards catch a touchdown pass as I would if I caught it myself. That's part of the team concept. That's how I've always tried to mold myself."

And there is another reason Savage is excited. Jurevicius is 6-foot-5 and a leaper. Edwards is 6-foot-3 and can jump. Kellen Winslow Jr. is 6-foot-4.

The Browns were last in the league in 2005 with 232 points scored. They should not be last in 2006 if Charlie Frye comes through at quarterback.

"I think it's going to pay real dividends in terms of our overall offense," Savage said. "The thing you forget about Joe is he's really a big man. We feel he's going to be able to do some things in the red zone. You start imagining a little bit about Joe, K2 and Braylon out there going for those jump balls in the end zone. You think it's going to be favorable for us."

The Browns won't have Edwards for a month or more as he continues recovering from knee surgery, but be patient. He'll be fine.

Jurevicius grew up a Browns fan in the Cleveland suburb of Timberlake and he went to Lake Catholic High School, about 25 miles East of Cleveland.

Some players cut ties with their hometown the instant they turn pro. Desmond Howard went to St. Joseph High School in Cleveland and never had anything to do with it after he turned pro. Elvis Grbac, a quarterback at St. Joe, was like Jurevicius - always giving back to his alma mater without drawing attention to himself while doing it.

If any of the Browns still do not understand the rivalry with the Steelers Jurevicius, center LeCharles Bentley, punter Dave Zastudil and guard Bob Hallen, all local guys, will drive the message home.

"I have every intension of playing until I can't play anymore," Jurevicius said. "I think that's how we all approach it. Phil's going to have to kick me out the door. That's the only way I'll leave.

"I don't think there's a better place than right in my backyard. That's what's so exciting for me."

If he has his way, this will be the last stop for the 31-year-old Jurevicius. We can only hope it will be a long stay.

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