Q: With the latest news on wide receiver Joe Jurevicius' surgery, one would have to wonder if he is going to play any longer. Multiple knee surgeries, the possibility of continued infection and rehab... can Jurevicius make it back and contribute to the team in the 2008 season, or is this the end? It was refreshing to see how you guys reported on the latest news, rather hearing that the world is collapsing again...
LA: This entire situation (knee surgery/staph infection) with Joe J. has been something we have known about for a long time. We had known he was having knee problems, and thanks to a poster in one of theOBR forums months ago, we were able to learn about Jurevicius' staph issues.
There remains no definitive proof of where the staph originated, despite the rumors which suggest the Cleveland Clinic was/is responsible. Staph can be contracted very easily and the Cleveland Clinic being too easily blamed for the incident. Unless we get confirmation from multiple sources, we do not simply throw such life-changing type information out there at the expense of any player or any person.
We like to break stories as well as the other media entities, but there has to be a fine line respected when dealing with something more than the football aspect of the situation.
At this point, we are hearing that the issue with Joe J.'s knee is not as severe as message board rumors or fantasy services might suggest, but might be more complex than the press release the team recently put out. All I have been told by two reliable sources though Wednesday morning is that the hope is that Joe J. returns for some portion of camp. The organization is not going to push the veteran, as he will do that himself.
At this time, we haven't talked to Joe Jurevicius and, consequently, can't claim to have the final word on the matter. At this point, we suspect it would be too early for Jurevicius to throw in the towel, and that he'll work towards returning.
LA: First, if Jurevicius does call it a career it would be a big loss for the Browns team. He is a leader and, beyond that, a good guy. I certainly know he wouldn't want to go out this way, which leads me to believe if there is any chance he could play, he will work to do so.
As for depth at the WR position, the first place to look would be on the current roster. Travis Wilson has done well in OTAs and mini-camps, but will need to step it up further and demonstrate he can be counted on during training camp and pre-season. The talent is there - Wilson can ball - but he hasn't elevated himself until recently. Wilson has the physical skills to play in this league, and I do not view him strictly as a possession receiver.
Kevin Kasper has been solid and has a possibility of sticking. He has been around a bit for a reason, but has done well in camps and will need to continue this pattern if he wants to make this team. Kasper is a much different receiver from Jurevicius. He does not have the size, strength and track-record of sure hands.
Rookie Paul Hubbard is a possibility, but being a rookie and somewhat unfinished, the likelihood of his making an impact is less than that of Wilson or another veteran. I believe he makes this team or stays in the organization, but not going to be a player that replaces a Joe J. in his rookie season.
There are plenty of young players on the current off-season roster who are battling for an opportunity. Steve Sanders, Lance Leggett, Syndric Steptoe or Efrem Hill could emerge and provide some depth.
Another name which could possibly come up in discussion is Randy Hymes. Hymes is the former Baltimore Ravens receiver who has been playing for Bernie Kosar's Cleveland Gladiators in recent weeks. Hymes is a big receiver (6'3", 225) who has been outstanding in the AFL. He has been getting into game shape and is healthy.
There is nothing officially linking Hymes and the Browns together at this time, though we hear he could be a player of interest. Another player of interest is San Diego Chargers WR Eric Parker.
In Parker, the Browns would get an experienced WR with experience in a system very close to Cleveland's. Parker is coming off injury, however. He has the talent and experience to come in and provide quality play, but again lacks the size of a Joe Jurevicius and would play a different role.