Browns Downsize the Roster

Sheer bulk doesn't appear to be as important in the Mangini era as before...

Just like every other business in the U.S. these days, the Browns are downsizing.

Only unlike those companies, the Browns aren't doing it this time because of the depressed economy.

They're doing it because … uh, who knows why they're doing it? But they're doing it. They're getting smaller and smaller.

We're not talking about the number of players on the roster. The Browns still have 53, just like the rest of the NFL. It's just that a lot of the players, especially those new to the team, aren't very big.

For instance, take wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, one of the players who arrived in Wednesday's trade with the New York Jets. Stuckey is listed at 6 feet, 195 pounds, but when you stand next to him, you realize he's nowhere close to being that big. If you would say 5-9 and 175 pounds instead, you'd be a lot closer.

The guy supersizing your order tonight is that big – or maybe bigger.

So is the kid bagging your groceries.

And the young man toting your luggage up to the fourth floor of the hotel you'll be staying at during your next trip out of town.

But an NFL player? Not hardly – at least you wouldn't think so.

Several weeks ago, the Browns signed a free-agent defensive back/special teamer named Ray Ventrone. His nickname is "Bubba." That's akin to when a big guy is called "Tiny," or when a slow runner is named "Flash." Call it the opposite effect.

Ventrone is listed at 5-10 and 200 pounds, which is like saying Shaun Rogers is 6-1 and 238. That is, it's extremely inaccurate.

How about 5-9 and 180 – maybe?

Thank you. Now, can you set my luggage on the floor, please?

Billy Cundiff, the kicker who's filling in while Phil Dawson gets his right calf healthy again, is in your souvenir program at 6-1 and 207 pounds. Yes, it is truly a souvenir program, because it's the only place in the whole wide world where Cundiff is represented as being that big.

Try 5-11 and 190 pounds – and only if he's wearing stilts and has a large rock in each pocket.

Dawson, listed at 5-11 and 200 pounds, looks much bigger.

Going by the listed heights and weights, which, as mentioned, are always going to be more than they really are as players try to bulk themselves up in a sport where size really matters, the Browns have nine players under 6 feet and 10 players at 200 pounds or less. In that respect, they look like the Browns teams from decades ago more than they do a club of today.

Even the massive Rogers is appreciably lighter than he was last year, when he looked to be about 370 or 380 pounds. He was a man-mountain then, but nobody wants to be considered that big – you become like a sideshow at the circus – so he was listed at "just" 350. He looks to be no more than about 335 or 340 now, even though he's still "officially" 350.

Getting back to Stuckey, he took the spot in the receiving corps of the man involved in his trade, Braylon Edwards. Edwards was a huge receiver at 6-3 and 215, so the Browns have shrunk considerably at that roster spot.

Remember in 2007 when the Browns had a 6-6 quarterback in Derek Anderson throwing to Edwards, 6-4, 250-pound tight end Kellen Winslow and 6-5, 230-pound wideout Joe Jurevicius? Talk about a passing attack that loomed large.

Anderson is still the man getting under center – at least for now – and the Browns have a monster-sized tight end in 6-8, 266-pound Greg Estandia, but the two up-and-coming young receivers are much slighter than those in the past with 6-3, 209-pound Brian Robiskie and 6-2, 207-pound Mohamed Massaquoi.

Is bigger better? It's hard to say. But that big 2007 club went 10-6, and the smaller 2009 version is 0-4 heading into Sunday's game at Buffalo. That probably means nothing.

The bottom line, though, is that while the Browns are smaller, they don't want their win total to follow suit.


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