Q: Knowing Joe Jurevicius is shelved with knee problems, is it safe to assume it is only a matter of time until the front office fills that void? With this team being on the cusp of great things they can't afford to let this type of issue derail what promises to be an exciting season! What about Eric Parker, when will they make their move?
LA: I enjoy your enthusiasm and also believe this team is going to be exciting to watch. As for the WR situation, I am not nearly as skeptical, or as concerned that that the team needs to get a body into camp immediately. This organization does like some of the young talent in camp already competing. If a player is available that this organization really believes can step in and make an impact, they would be pursuing it.
Players such as Kevin Kasper and Travis Wilson are fitting in very nicely in different roles, and the team is beginning to look a little closer at them perhaps sticking around. The Browns staff is more confident today in the ability of these two players than they were a couple months ago. As we have noted on numerous occasions, the organization has an eye open for viable options at the WR position, but have not been inclined to jump into the fray as of yet.
Fans need to understand that Parker is under contract and a member of the San Diego Chargers. Something could transpire at some point between the two teams, but nothing is remotely sizzling at this point. Another thing to note is Parker is not going to step into this offensive scheme and become the next Joe Jurevicius. He is a completely different type of receiver in size and utilization.
The staff is going to keep a close eye on Jurevicius to monitor his progress. We have been told he is moving forward and the latest surgery did provide him considerable relief. Moving forward, the anticipation is that Jurevicius is going to work at his own pace with the goal of getting on the field early in the 2008 season, if not sooner. The tough issue for the player and team is not knowing what is going to transpire with the knee. Every indication is the knee should be 'good enough' to play on, but that also tells me the injured area is not going to be quite right for the veteran WR.
Q: Many media people and fans are skeptical that wide receiver Travis Wilson, Paul Hubbard and Kevin Kasper can be relied on in this Cleveland offense. What are your thoughts from seeing them exclusively in the camp settings?
LA: Travis Wilson has the talent, but his progress in the realm of taking responsibility and maturity has been slower than the team likely wanted. n his first camps as a rookie, Wilson looked good, and justified the team's scouting at Oklahoma. Then things went South. At this time, the Browns are proceeding with caution, but if this young man has reached a good point of maturity and responsibility, he can be a very viable option for this team. Wilson can play the game when he's mentally into it.
Paul Hubbard is a rookie... he's got talent, but he is raw. Saddling him with high expectations at this early stage of his development would not be wise. He needs time to season. Hubbard is a large receiver, and runs better routes today than when he arrived in Cleveland. The rookie has work to due in getting off the line, getting his heard around and using his hands for other than catching the football.
Kevin Kasper has bounced around a bit in his career and it really boils down to now-or-never for him. He has been solid (bordering on very good) in camp sessions and does fit well into this offensive system. What impresses me most about him is that he is running good routes. This will be something of interest as training camp heats up and the contact starts. If continues to show well and hold onto the football, it is going to be difficult for this organization to let him go.
I don't view the #3 WR position as being as precarious as many do, as I believe the depth is better than advertised. If I have any reservations,they are more around #2 receiver Donte Stallworth, as I do not see him as a 'reliable' receiver due to issues in his past. If Stallworth pans out, the concerns at receiver are limited. If he doesn't, however, this Cleveland offense could face some issues. Let's remember, the likelihood of Joe Jurevicius being here at the start of the season to bail them out is questionable.
Q: I read in another column that wide receiver Donte Stallworth was having some issues learning the new scheme. Have you heard the same or noticed the same in practice sessions?
LA: I have not heard or seen anything of the sort. The WR appears to have acclimated himself well in the sessions thus far.
Q: I recently read from another news outlet that the Browns would be better served getting an established type veteran RB to back up Jamal Lewis. Agree?
LA: First and foremost, one would have to be available. I also believe chasing another veteran RB right now would be rather short-sighted. This organization believes the RB's on the roster can play at this level. In brief appearances, Jason Wright and Jerome Harrison have performed reasonably well.
Now, if Lewis were to be injured, then a team would want to secure the services of a capable depth RB. Looking at the available talent, I don't see a player which I would consider a slam-dunk improvement over what Cleveland has down the depth chart. I am very intrigued with what Wright and Harrison can do... particularly Harrison as he is simply a natural runner and that type of back can be effective.
In the Cleveland offensive scheme, if Lewis were to be injured the running game would take on a different look because of the different talents in the backs behind him. That may not necessarily turn out to be a bad thing.
Would it be nice to have a back similar to Lewis to plug in if he gets hurt? Certainly, but finding such is not as easy as saying the team should do it.
Q: Many other media outlets have brought up the name A.J. Davis as a player that could make this team. Why hasn't the Orange and Brown Report been talking about him?
LA: A. J. Davis is a talented young man and he has an opportunity to make this team. His strength is in his quickness and closing speed. His weakness is bodying a receiver off the ball and contact, which he didn't do much at the collegiate level. In camp sessions Davis has not been physical with receivers, which is going to be a problem for him if he doesn't step that up in training camp. Having been in the system a year, he should know how the defense operates and that should give him an advantage over a Mil'von James and Damon Jenkins.
Regarding our coverage, A.J. Davis is a player which has been mentioned for months at the Orange and Brown Report. His name has been included in a number of articles discussing the state of the cornerback position, and we were talking about him very early on. We've talked about him and moved on, but how he adapts to contact will be an interesting story to follow when camp starts.
Q: Why did the team release well-regarded undrafted free agent cornerback Darnell Terrell?
LA: Terrell did not display the necessary footwork, positioning (both hands and body) and speed/quickness the staff prefers. Terrell has the size to play s a safety, but did not have that sort of mindset. In coverage, Terrell was easily beaten off the ball, did not engage well and simply could not stay with the receivers.
Q: What is the latest on safety Sean Jones and his contract situation? Also, do you see him being the type of safety that fits in this defensive
LA: As reported by this column from a week ago, there has been some discussion, but nothing to the extent of anything significant coming down the pipe anytime soon. As for Jones the player, he is a physical safety that runs well and will put a helmet on a ball-carrier, which makes him a useful commodity in this defense, especially with the change at defensive coordinator.
Q: We keep hearing the Cleveland defensive backfield should be better in 2008 season, but do you see anything that makes you believe this to be the case?
LA: I am a firm believer that a strong and active defensive line will make the balance of the defense look good. Pressuring the QB is essential, as well as managing the run. If the Browns defense can control the line of scrimmage, average cornerbacks will suddenly look good. Both of these areas were deficient in the 2007 season, thus the changes to personnel and coaching to maximize performance and minimize confusion.
LA: Absolutely, as Cousin has been solid in this role as a nickel or dime corner, while Bodden did not like or want to play the slot last season and it showed in his performance.