Lane's Inside Buzz: Trades and Starters

Whose starting jobs are in doubt? What is Rob Ryan planning? Can Hall and Cribbs contribute on D? ...and Thomas Jones? Really? Grab a seven-day free trial to the OBR, and join us on the inside.

--The Browns' QB situation is going to be of great interest heading into training camp. Of the three realistic options at the position, the staff likes the makeup of Brady Quinn, the physical abilities of Derek Anderson and the overall capabilities of Brett Ratliff. Depending on who you ask, Quinn and Anderson appear to be the front-runners, with Ratliff being a player who has simply worked his way into the picture.

- Much has been noted (speculated, guessed, etc) about the Browns' defensive philosophy heading into the 2009 season. With Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator, the Cleveland defense is expected to take on a much different look. Stunting, blitzing and an array of three-, four- and five-player looks along the defensive line will be customary. The base defense will be the 3-4, but the belief within the organization is this group has the depth and talent to be run more than a systematic and predictable 3-4 scheme.

- We had heard these rumors as well, but the Browns have not discussed dealing WR Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets. Additionally, the Jets have not put RB Thomas Jones on the market and are not expected to do so in the 2009 season, unless an offer they can't turn down arises. The same should not be noted on Edwards, as, as of this writing, the Browns are forging ahead with Edwards in the plans, though the belief is the additions of Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi in the draft and David Patten and Mike Furrey via free agency provide quality and depth at the position. A huge disappointment a season ago, Edwards could become expendable at some point if the quality and depth indicate the team's passing attack could suffer his loss.

- While talk has centered on rookie LB David Veikune seeing time as an ILB in rookie mini-camp, the staff intends on working the rookie outside as well as inside throughout the spring and summer. The rookie's versatility, the potential to move around players in specific defensive packages and match-ups intrigues the Browns' defensive staff, with Veikune displaying the ability to absorb information quickly. While the rookie has been a quick study, the truth comes out when on the playing field and the process has to be instinctive, rather than hesitant and calculated.

- Second-year OLB Alex Hall could play himself into a significant role during the 2009 season. The defensive staff likes the length and quickness Hall possesses, as well as the time he is spending on improving his skill set and athleticism. Currently looked upon as a liability against the run, Hall could become a situational pass rusher and potentially an option on the weak-side in what appears to be a defensive scheme with players working at positions other than the expected.

- As the days pass, there is a growing sentiment that "jack-of-all-trades" Josh Cribbs may gain the opportunity to impress in some situational defensive drills. Cribbs is viewed by the organization as a "special talent" who may have the ability to match his athleticism and move into a role other than a special teams ace.

- As for the Cribbs contract issue, there has been some discussion and the organization is expected to follow through on indications to the agent for the player that something will get done. A further issue could be the timetable, as the player would like the issue addressed immediately, while the organization is taking a much different path.

- The starting CB spots for the Browns could be up in the air throughout the spring and summer sessions. While Eric Wright appears to be solid at one spot, Brandon McDonald could be pressed as there is a belief the third-year corner would be better served matched-up on the slot receiver. At this time, McDonald remains a consistent fixture opposite Wright due to the lack of experience at the position. The development of Coye Francies could come into play here as the staff in Cleveland believes the second-day pick can be a player at this level.

- Depending on how the youngsters progress, the Browns have investigated the option of adding a veteran presence. Much of the Browns' scheme in the secondary will be zone-based, and the belief is a veteran knowing the system can provide a stabilizing influence in this area.

- Injuries in the 2008 season to defensive linemen Robaire Smith and Corey Williams do not have the Browns concerned. Both players are said to be in "pretty good" shape and expected to be players of significant interest heading into the camp season. Smith and Williams are going to compete for starting roles along a defensive line that has improved its quality and depth with the additions of veteran DE Kenyon Coleman and C.J. Mosely.

- RB Jamal Lewis is in great physical condition and working out in Atlanta, as he does every off-season. Lewis is believed to be a little lighter than the 240-pound range of a season ago. For Lewis, the Browns are of the belief he can achieve at a high level, but the coaching staff intends on getting the ball into the hands of backup Jerome Harrison more often. The wildcard at the position is rookie James Davis, a player this staff believes has the qualities and ability to succeed.


The OBR Top Stories