OBR Daily News and World Report: 8/24

Wherein the Browns make as many trades as Joe J. has made pre-season catches. Of course, we expect one - and perhaps both - of these things to change in the near future...

The Browns training camp of wheeling and dealing appears to have continued early this morning as the club completed a deal with the Bears for—guess what?—another interior lineman.

As first reported by The OBR earlier this morning, Lennie Friedman, a Duke graduate who has started games at both the center and guard position during his eight-year career, was dealt to Cleveland from Chicago in exchange for an undisclosed draft pick.

The pick would likely be the Browns remaining seventh-rounder in the 2007 draft.

This would be the Browns' fourth trade in the last two weeks, although one—the infamous Lee Suggs deal—was rescinded a day later.

Friedman spent last season with the Bears and played in 11 games, with no starts.  He was listed as the backup left guard behind starter Ruben Brown on the Bears most recent depth chart.

In 2003, the 6'3",293-pounder played in all 16 games with the Redskins and started the last eight games at center when starter Larry Moore went down with a foot injury.  He opened the 2004 season as the starting center, but was replaced after two games by Cory Raymer.

In 2000 and 2001, Friedman played in 31 games for the Broncos, starting in 22 of those games.

All 22 starts for Denver came at left guard.

After missing his entire rookie season in 1999 due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Friedman has been relatively healthy over the last six years.  He missed one game in 2001 due to a sprained ligament in his right knee.

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So, let me get this straight.

In the off-season, the Browns got rid of a 6'3", 291-pound center after watching him get tossed around like a rag doll for most of his career in Cleveland.  And a lot of the tossing came at the hands of teams that they played six times a year and, I'm assuming, will continue to play for the foreseeable future.

Now, searching for depth, they add a 6'3", 293-pound guard/center as the likely fill-in for Ross Tucker should he falter or get injured or maimed in a horrific blue ice incident?

Color me—at first blush—as being confused and unimpressed by this latest effort to stick a finger in the leaky OL dike.

But, then again, the Tucker trade had me feeling the same way initially, and that one seems to have worked out OK thus far.

The effort is seemingly there to shore up the OL, so the Browns have that going for them.  Which is good.

I think.

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There is speculation coming from at least one Pittsburgh-area newspaper that the Steelers will keep four players with the ability to play center on their roster, in part because they want to keep them from going to one of their AFC North rivals.

And that rival would be none other than the "center-less" Cleveland Browns.

According to the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, the Steelers will open the season with Jeff Hartings as the starter, while Chukky Okobi and rookie sixth-round draft pick Marvin Philip will continue their fight for the backup spot.

Additionally, the paper says, starting guard Kendall Simmons will see some time in this Friday's exhibition game at center, essentially giving them four players who can play the position.

Okobi has yet to play in the pre-season due to a neck injury suffered earlier in training camp, but he is expected back the pre-season finale.

While Hartings began his NFL career as a guard with the Lions before moving to Pittsburgh and taking over the center position for the retiring Dermontti Dawson, both Okobi and Philip are viewed primarily as centers.

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Earlier this week, linebacker Willie McGinest raised quite a bit of ruckus regarding the Patriots decision to sign "retired" LB Junior Seau and hand him jersey number 55.  That number just happens to be the same one that McGinest wore during his 12 years in New England.

McGinest told Cleveland-area reporters that both Seau and head coach Bill Belichick had called him and asked for permission to use the number.

At least according to McGinest, it should never have come to that.

"What if I had went to San Diego? I don't even think that would have been an option for me to ask for 55," McGinest said of the number Seau wore during his 13 seasons with the Chargers.

"I think they would have said, ‘You know what, you're a great player, but we've got to put this number to the side because of Junior.' And out of respect, I wouldn't have asked for the number."

Apparently Patriot fans didn't get Willie's memo as a poll on the Boston Herald's website showed that 76% of the fans who responded were in favor of Seau wearing McGinest's old jersey number.

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Quarterback Charlie Frye is expected to play at least one or two series into the third quarter in Saturday's pre-season game against the Bills.

Frye played two series in the preseason loss to the Eagles, and four in last Friday's win over the Lions.

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One thing to look for during Frye's two and a half quarters of work this weekend is the QB and the Browns' offensive staff getting wide receiver Joe Jurevicius more involved in the offense.

Thus far this pre-season, the veteran receiver has one lone catch for six yards.

(One catch?  That's all he's got, one g*ddamn catch?)

(You can't say "g*ddamn" on the net.)

(Don't worry, nobody's reading anyway.)

Perhaps the most disturbing part of Jurevicius' production during the 2006 fake season is that his one catch was the only ball that has been thrown his way.  Frye must find a way to get some type of chemistry going with the veteran.

He's accomplished that with both Dennis Northcutt and Kellen Winslow II.  Now it's time to work the Lake Catholic grad into the mix as well.

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If the Browns are going to continue their quest for yet another center—and here's a hint: they will, even after today's trade—they will now have even more competition for whatever scraps are available.

And the price of bartering for the center goods could potentially go up as well.

The 49ers announced yesterday that former Pro Bowl center Jeremy Newberry was placed on the injured reserve list after undergoing knee surgery just over a week ago.  The IR designation means that the lineman will miss the entire 2006 season.

Newberry was considered the backup behind starter Eric Heitmann after missing two-thirds of the regular season games the past two years due to knee and back injuries.

According to the Contra Costa Times, this latest setback could force Newberry into retirement.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It's been long overdue. I've watched players get in, and there are a lot of politics. Gene Hickerson is never going to be a political guy. To the contrary, he's going to hurt himself. On pure talent, not promoting yourself, as far as any lineman I've seen, he should definitely be there."—former Browns guard Robert Jackson, on a fellow well-deserving ex-Brown finally making it as a senior nominee and is now eligible for selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2007.


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