Category Archives: Cleveland Browns

Getting value for Gordon will be difficult

Right now, an hour before the Browns play at Kansas City and the last weekend of games before the NFL’s annual trade deadline begins, I don’t think the Browns will trade Josh Gordon.

I don’t know. No one knows.

The rumor mill is churning. We don’t know who’s keeping it going, but deadlines spur both action and speculation. And just about anybody in any front office leaguewide — with a variety of different motivations — can plant and/or feed a new rumor at just about anytime.

This is the Twitter world. This, too, is business in the NFL.

In Gordon, the Browns have a talented player with plenty of upside on the field. Off the field, he’s essentially down to his last strike. The Browns are building for the future and have to look two years ahead, when Gordon — if he’s clean and producing — will command big money. Or, maybe it will go the other way, which is why the thought of getting anything for him now fits with a team that’s going to need new players at every offensive skill position (except probably tight end) next year.

One thing the Browns won’t do under Joe Banner is blink. They’ll explore every option and every scenario, but Banner’s willingness to do these kinds of deals doesn’t mean he’s going to do one (or two) just to do it.

The most complicated issue for both the Browns and interested teams is that Gordon’s potential greatly outweighs his production thus far. In addition to that lingering last strike in the substance abuse program, will he do all the necessary work to reach his ceiling? Will whatever team employs him get maximum effort all the time? Based both on how he got here and what he’s done in 15 months in the NFL, those are fair questions.

The Gordon who played in Minnesota in his first game back looked like a certain tall, dangerous and sometimes-troubled receiver who came to Minnesota 15 years ago. The Gordon who played last week in Green Bay could get a general manager fired for trading for him.

No team is giving a first-rounder for Gordon. Maybe some team will give a second. Not likely, but maybe. The 49ers are going to have an extra second-rounder. Those are the picks the Patriots covet. Each team probably values Gordon differently.

Do the Browns really want to trade Gordon for a third-rounder — and likely a late third considering a contender would be making the trade? Or two fourth-rounders? Or, say, a conditional third and a low-level player? That’s not value.

The Browns will get value or they’ll move on.

Today’s games can change outlooks and needs, and one phone call between now and Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline could change the Browns line of thinking. I wouldn’t count on the Browns moving Gordon.

At least not until March.

Three pregame Browns-Bengals thoughts

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Three quick Bengals-Browns pregame observations and such…

1. Joe Thomas plays his 100th game today. He’s never missed a snap.

He’s a warrior. And a stud. And someday he’ll be in the Hall of Fame discussion.

Drafting hasn’t been the Browns thing — though drafting between third and seventh certainly has — but they got that one very right. Thomas is still playing at a high level and deserves better. Maybe, sooner than a bunch later, he’ll get it. He was great last week in the Browns first win of the season and will need another big game today.

He won’t likely see James Harrison much, but that’s good for Harrison, who has bullied a lot of bigger tackles in his outstanding career but never did much against Thomas.

2. However it goes, and however long this lasts, and even if he never starts another game, Brian Hoyer is starting a game in Browns Stadium today.

A Cleveland kid who grew up a season ticket holder, went to high school right over the bridge and has been dismissed a bunch is starting an NFL game 15 miles from his backyard.

That’s really cool. Really, really, really, really cool.

It’s a little too early to point out that the last time Rob Chudzinski was involved with an early-season QB switch here, that  new QB found a stud receiver and a star tight end and got really hot, engineering a magical season.

It’s possible. It’s not likely. More than a few people are going to have chills when Hoyer gets introduced today, and rightly so. We’ll judge again at about 4:15, but he’s truly living an incredible dream.

3. The Bengals are 2-1, should be 3-0, and are coming off a win over the Packers that made the rest of the league pay attention.

If they’ve truly arrived and/or are prepared to have the season they want to have, they win today. Even without Leon Hall and Reggie Nelson.

There’s not much margin for error, and there are no more excuses. The chips are in, the standards are high (for a reason) and the pieces appear to be in place. There are questions — every team has them — and there’s a long, long way to go, but if the Bengals are going to eventually be anywhere near any discussion of the elite or the true contenders they can’t afford a step back or even a slight bump. It has to be forward with proven maturity and positive results.

The Ravens are giving nothing away. You have to think, though, that a couple weeks ago the Colts saw Andy Dalton as the quarterback of maybe the AFC’s second-best team and thought they might as well try and go win the thing. The Bengals no longer want to be outsiders or the hunters, and they need to handle their business accordingly.

Lewis effusive with praise for D’Qwell

Marvin Lewis isn’t much for hyperbole, so what the Bengals coach said this week about Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson carries some serious weight.

And Lewis said a lot.

During his scheduled conference call with the Cleveland media ahead of Sunday’s Bengals-Browns game, Lewis was asked what makes the Browns defensive front seven so good.

“Explosive pass rushers, it starts there,” Lewis said. “And they have No. 52. He keeps playing. The guy has played in how many different defensive schelmes but the one thing that’s consistent is how great D’Qwell plays. He’s fun to watch on tape and he really has done an excellent job as a linebacker in the NFL.”

A second-round pick of the Browns in 2006, Jackson started immediately in Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 defense. Eric Mangini employed a similar 3-4 style in 2009-10, but injuries limited Jackson to six starts in those two seasons. The change to Pat Shurmur marked a change to 4-3 base defense in 2011-12, and now the Browns are back to a 3-4.

Jackson has been around so long that he’s changed numbers, from 58 to 52. He was starting when new Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski was in his second Browns stint as an assistant in 2007-08. With Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Phil Dawson and Joshua Cribbs gone from their teams, Lewis, Jackson, Ben Roethlisberger and Haloti Ngata would rank among the AFC North’s most grizzled vets and longest-tenured men with their respective teams.

“D’Qwell is probably one of the more unheralded great players in the league,” Lewis said. “You have to be over in this division and watch him week in and week out to know how good he is. He makes so many plays in the run game.”

Richardson: They gave up on me

Trent Richardson did the conference call with the Jacksonville media today in advance of the Colts-Jaguars game Sunday.

Almost all of the questions for Richardson were about last week’s trade from the Browns — and Richardson had some interesting things to say, including that he sees “people enjoying their jobs” with the Colts and that the Browns coaches had promised him more carries before the surprising trade.

Below is the transcript of the call distributed by the Colts, picking up three questions in.

How different is the atmosphere? Cleveland where they’re rebuilding and Indy is coming off a playoff berth – can you tell in the locker room?

“Yeah and the atmosphere here with the players is way different. It’s much cooler, much family vibe, people actually come to work and are just ready to work and have fun. People are enjoying their jobs. I don’t think it’s one guy. I can look to my left and to my right and say that this guy is not trying as hard or he’s not giving it all to him because these guys will get onto you about that and make sure you’re working.”

Were some guys in Cleveland not giving their all?

“I can’t say that they weren’t giving their all but there were times that it was a Wednesday or it’s a Monday or something like that. Sometimes you have a mindset saying you don’t want to go to work today or something like that. I’m not saying these guys don’t get a day off but here you can just hear the different vibe with the family and the brotherly love here.”

How has the transition been for you personally? Did you have a house in Cleveland?

“Yeah, I had a house in Cleveland. It’s tough. I’ve got a family and a house in Cleveland so I’ve got to put my house on the market and I’ve got a find somewhere to stay here even if I’m just going to lease for a year.  With the process of moving and stuff like that and the kids and their school was the biggest concern to me because anywhere I go I know I can play football. It doesn’t matter. It’s a process with the kids. I’ve got a first and kindergartener and I’ve got a son that’s going to be a year next week. With saying that I’m not there and we’re planning a birthday party for him for the big “one” and it’s difficult trying to see them at the same time. For the first two games that I have here are two away games. I actually had a (luxury) box in Cleveland too so getting all of that stuff cancelled out for the rest of the year and I can’t get a box here because they’re all sold out. It’s been difficult.”

Were you disappointed with the way you found out that you had been traded? That’s weird having a friend call you?

“Yeah it was weird. I was very surprised and disappointed. At first it felt like they just really gave up on me. I thought I was doing all I could to be a Cleveland Brown and I get traded. I heard that and I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ One of my friends called and I was like I’m not getting traded, what are you talking about? Then when I turned up the radio it was breaking news that ‘Trent Richardson has been traded to the Colts.’ I’m just leaving a complex and just got done ice bath and stuff like that and trying to take care of my body and getting ready for the next week. Later that night I was flying to Indy to do my physical the next morning and get ready to be a on the practice field.”

You never saw it coming in Cleveland?

“No, none of that. I was pretty good people there with everybody and everybody was always turned to me when it was coming to games on the line or needed advice on certain stuff. I thought I had built up enough chemistry with the players that we had enough respect for each other that they could come to me and say anything. I was on a leadership group, a captain group, whatever they called it. The coaches and I were good and they were telling me that we are going to get it done and we will get you the ball more. I was just telling the coaches it didn’t matter, let’s just win and get that win first. It doesn’t matter about the carries. I just want to win, that was the big issue and the big point of emphasis I tried to make every week.”

Do you feel like you went to a place that’s closer to winning?

“Oh yeah. It’s funny because the rebuilding year was last year and we still have a young group. We have our vets and stuff too. Our vets lead like no other leaders. They do a tremendous job with it but here you’ve got Luck and me and then you’ve got guys like Dwayne and you have our other tight end. We’ve got young guys and a young coach here. People don’t realize how much Indy has been a Pro Bowl system with the backfield when you’ve got Marshall Faulk coming from the same system, the same program, you’ve got Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai, so Peyton Manning always had a good running back.”

I know going to the Colts worked out well but it hurt your pride that a year later Cleveland doesn’t want you?

“I look at it as this, as far as me having a chip on my shoulder and saying with that I kind of felt like they gave up on me. They hurt my pride because I know I can play football and that’s always been my dream. I’m going to keep my head up high and put that behind me. Now, they asked me if I would ever go back to Cleveland? That’s tough to come about but I figured on an up and coming basis that I would be there longer and I would have been there longer. It played like it played and it’s probably the best move ever for me. I don’t know about on their end. It might be, but on our end I think it’s one of the best moves ever that they would make for me.”

Because you went to a winning team?

“Yeah, a winning team with a winning coach. Ahmad Bradshaw took a big load off of me. Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, the offensive line, it’s a big load being taken off of me. When you don’t have to play behind you can really get the touches that you really want to to fill out the game. We’ve got a two headed monster like me and Ahmad. It’s crazy. Ahmad had been blessed to be with a team like he was at the Giants with a two headed monster when him and Brandon Jacobs were running the ball.”

Do you feel you have anything to prove because the casual fans across the country wonder why Cleveland would trade you a year later? Is there a problem?

“I think I’ve got a lot to prove because I never want to have that taste in my mouth again. No matter if it’s a good one or a bad one I want to be committed to a team and want the team to be committed to me. On that end I think I’ve got a lot to prove because I was the third pick of the draft, it was a year ago and being a player that I was last year playing with broken ribs and two knee surgeries, so I thought that the harder I went out there they would have stuck by me a little bit longer. I never caused any problems. It’s a business and at the same time with that business trip they just had, I’ve just got to put that behind me and say this never happen again, nothing that I don’t know about.”

It sounds like they were committed to you then this happens.

“I don’t think Norv Turner had anything to do with that. And Chilly probably had nothing to do with that either. A lot of stuff can come from up top and you don’t know why they do stuff. When that stuff happens it just happens. One thing Coach Saban always taught me when I was in Alabama he said, ‘It’s nothing personal, it’s a business.’”

Now you want to be a long term member of the Colts?

“Oh yeah, most definitely. This place here is where I think I want to be home as far as playing in my NFL career. I don’t want to be on another squad, I want to be here for the long run.”

Any particular goals, like leading the league in rushing, Pro Bowl?

“That’s down the line. That stuff is a goal every year. It’s going to come, I know it’s going to come. When it comes it’s going to come big and saying with that it’s a lot of team goals I still have for this team here. A lot of personal goals and at the end of the year I’m going to look at my tablet and see that I reach most of it, and I set my expectations high so if I reach just most of it or at least half of it I’m going to have a pretty successful year.”

How old are your kids?

“Seven, five and one next week.”

Two girls and a boy?

“Yeah.”

They’re still in Cleveland?

“Yeah, they’re still in Cleveland.”

They must have been shocked too?

“Yeah, it’s kind of hard to explain but I think my kids have been taking it well. They don’t know what’s really going on and they ask why. It’s hard to tell them.  I can’t explain it to them because half of it and most of it I don’t really know. I just said Daddy got traded and we’ve got to pick up and move unless you want to stay here in Cleveland.”

How fast will you find a place and get them to Indy?

“We have been fine and we have been looking the last two days and it’s been coming along. I’ve been looking for some places. We should be wrapped up by next week or the week after that.”

You’ve already looked at houses?

“Yeah. I’m not wasting any time. I want to be here and I want my kids to be settled in so I can be feeling at home.”

You hope to make lemonade out of a lemon of a situation then?

“Oh yeah. Freshly squeezed.”

Richardson scores, Colts win his debut

Trent Richardson’s wild week ended with his new team going across the country and scoring an upset.

Four days after being traded by the Cleveland Browns to the Indianapolis Colts, Richardson scored his first touchdown of the season and finished with 13 carries for 35 yards as the Colts beat the San Francisco 49ers.

The Colts acquired him and played him on short notice because they needed him, so after practicing with the Browns Wednesday he had essentially two days to get caught up on the Colts playbook so that he could feel comfortable enough to play a role and the team could feel comfortable that he would be able to contribute.

“At first, everything was going fast, but the game did slow down,” Richardson told reporters after the game. “I hit the playbook real hard and got to studying. I knew the game was going to come to me and I just had to let the game come to me. Also Andrew Luck is a genius and Ahmad Bradshaw helped me out. All the guys on the offense helped me out and they were encouraging. They want to be great and I know why I am here. I am here for the long run and I am not going anywhere. We are going to be a great team.”

Asked how he liked playing with Luck, Richardson said: ” I love playing with Luck out there. He is a good person, a genius, and a rocket scientist out there. Playing beside him you must know your stuff.”

So, as all these quarterback-needy teams go through their seasons while evaluating the game’s most important position for the future, they have some criteria.

Good people. Geniuses. Rocket scientists.

Richardson scored, untouched, on his first carry as a Colt from one yard out. His arrival also sparked Bradshaw, who wasn’t really the incumbent because he’s new to the Colts and was limited by injury throughout training camp and the preseason.

Bradshaw ran 19 times for 95 yards and a touchdown and was essentially the closer as the Colts pulled away during the second half. If both stay healthy going forward the Colts could have a potent running game. Obviously the Colts think Richardson can be a much more productive runner than he was with the Browns, and plenty of people will be watching over time to see if he will.

Luck, who isn’t really a rocket scientist but is a pretty gifted young quarterback, is counting on Richardson to get comfortable with his surroundings and make more plays as the season goes along.

“I thought (Richardson) did phenomenal,” Luck said. “I can’t imagine practicing Wednesday in one city and then you get on a flight and you are practicing Thursday in another city. I think we all know he is a football player. No stage is too big for him and we hardly ever saw his eyes get big or wide like ‘Oh my gosh what do I do?’. (He) definitely has the trust and respect of all our guys because of that. To him and Bradshaw and Donald Brown, they have worked together so well I think Donald and (running backs) coach (David) Walker do such a good job of bringing him up to speed that he was able to contribute and get a touchdown. How cool was that?”

Who’s suiting up for the Browns Sunday?

We won’t know until Sunday which 46 players will be on the active roster for the Browns in their much-anticipated season opener vs. the Dolphins.

Considering the state of the roster, it’s entirely possible that the Browns themselves don’t yet know.

That’s not necessarily an issue unique to the Browns, but by making seven waiver claims last weekend and parting ways with both kickers they used through the offseason and preseason, the Browns are in a unique spot. There’s always a strategy in picking the 46 active players and also a strategy in keeping those picks hidden from the opponent until 90 minutes before kickoff, when active rosters must be submitted.

Considering the current shape of the Browns roster and the 13 rookies who are on it, the Browns best strategy when it comes to special teams for Sunday’s game might be this: Hope.

And not just hoping that Billy Cundiff can still make field goals.

The Browns are thin at several positions — Josh Gordon’s suspension and Barkevious Mingo’s bruised lung don’t help — and will have to play at least a handful of guys on special teams units who weren’t on the team eight days ago. It seems like it’s going to be a long day of work for Trent Richardson, too.

The Browns have to dress all four receivers and all eight defensive backs — and hope like heck they don’t lose anyone at either position to an injury. Either seven or eight offensive linemen will be active; many teams gamble by just dressing seven. Probably three tight ends will be active, though it’s hard to imagine MarQuiese Gray or Keavon Milton being ready to contribute much offensively. Assuming Desmond Bryant gets healthy enough to play, the final game-active decisions will come at linebacker and at the bottom of the defensive line depth chart.

On kick and kick-coverage units, it’s going to be an all hands on deck approach.

All 53 players on the current roster are listed below — and designated by their potential special teams roles. Here’s the key…

N – never played in an NFL game
A – just added to the Browns roster since last weekend
* – not likely to play on punt team, punt return, kickoff team or kick return
X – not likely to be on the active gameday roster

QUARTERBACK (3)

Brandon Weeden *
Jason Campbell *
Brian Hoyer X

RUNNING BACK (4)

Trent Richardson *
Chris Ogbonnaya
Bobby Rainey A, N
Dennis Johnson A, N

WIDE RECEIVER (4)

Greg Little *
Davone Bess *
Travis Benjamin
Josh Cooper

TIGHT END (4)

Jordan Cameron *
Gary Barnidge
MarQueis Gray A, N
Keavon Milton A, N

OFFENSIVE LINE (10)

Joe Thomas *
John Greco *
Alex Mack *
O’Neil Cousins *
Mitchell Schwartz *
Rashad Butler *
Garrett Gilkey N
Patrick Lewis A, N, X
Martin Wallace A, N, X
Shawn Luavao – OUT

DEFENSIVE LINE (7)

Ahtyba Rubin *
Phil Taylor *
Desmond Bryant * (limited the last several weeks w/back spasms, status uncertain)
Billy Winn
John Hughes
Ishmaa’ily Kitchen *
Armonty Bryant N

LINEBACKER (10)

Paul Kruger *
Jabaal Sheard *
Quentin Groves
Barkevious Mingo N, X
D’Qwell Jackson *
Craig Robertson
Tank Carder
Paul Hazell N
Eric Martin N
Brandon Magee A, N, X

DEFENSIVE BACK (8, four safeties and four cornerbacks)

Joe Haden
Chris Owens
Buster Skrine
Leon McFadden N
T.J. Ward
Tashaun Gipson
Josh Aubrey N
Johnson Bademosi

SPECIALISTS (3)

Billy Cundiff A
Spencer Lanning N
Christian Yount

On paper, the Browns are staring at a special teams and depth problem. It sure seems like every minute of practice and preparation between now and Sunday afternoon will be important.

Mingo hospitalized; Lewis out indefinitely

CLEVELAND – An exciting night for the Cleveland Browns ended with disappointing news.

After the Browns 24-6 preseason win over the Lions, head coach Rob Chudzinski said first-round pick Barkevious Mingo will remain hospitalized overnight with a bruised lung and that running back Dion Lewis has a fractured fibula.

Lewis had been having an outstanding camp. Chudzinski said no decisions have been made, but he could be headed to injured-reserve.

Mingo left the game in the first half and ran to the locker room under his own power.

Starting guard Jason Pinkston — starting because of Shawn Lauvao’s ankle injury — left the game in the first quarter and left the stadium after the game with his foot in a protective boot and on crutches.

We’ll know more through the weekend, but it seems like it could have been a costly night for the Browns.

Gordon won’t attend rookie symposium

Because he missed it last year due to being a supplemental draft selection, I thought Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon would have to attend this year’s NFL Rookie Symposium.

Turns out I was incorrect. That’s happened once before, maybe twice.

It wouldn’t be a terrible idea though, right?

Gordon, who will miss the first two games of the 2013 season due to violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, will not be attending the 2013 symposium later this month. That was confirmed earlier this week by NFL spokesperson Corry Rush, who checked with the powers that be and responded to my inquiries.

The NFL considers the rookie symposium a big deal. It devotes a ton of money and resources to making sure its messages about money, decision-making, career management and substance abuse reach the 200+ drafted rookies who attend. It brings back former problem children to address the next generation. Seems like Gordon would be, in some ways, the symposium’s absolute target audience, no?

When then-Vikings receiver Percy Harvin missed the 2009 symposium due to sickness, there was some dicussion that he’d have to attend the following year. When the time came, the NFL did not require Harvin to attend because “he received the appropriate training during the season at the club level through the Vikings’ player development department.” Presumably, the NFL thinks the same of Gordon.

During the lockout year of 2011, the NFL Players’ Association held its own symposium-like event even though no league-sanctioned event could be held. More than 100 players didn’t show for that, but Terrelle Pryor — who was in that year’s supplemental draft — did.

The symposium is usually held in late June. The Browns selected Gordon in the supplemental draft in mid-July last year so, like Harvin and Pryor, he did not attend.

Given Gordon’s college troubles and his latest issue — and that the symposium is now held in Cleveland — maybe someone inside the Browns’ organization could give Gordon a nudge or a whisper about voluntarily attending? Per the CBA, it probably can’t be more than a nudge.

There is precedent. Another talented but troubled player, Nick Fairley of the Detroit Lions, showed up at last year’s symposium after being drafted during the lockout in 2011.

If Gordon showed up, he might win some goodwill and some PR points. More importantly, something there might stick with him. And he might learn from past offenders that it’s best to straighten up before it’s too late.

On Columbus and the Browns

At first, anyway, I didn’t think much of the press release in my email this morning about the Browns reaching a deal with a new Columbus sports radio station.

I work on Sundays in the fall, usually, and when I don’t and I’m in Columbus I usually go to a bar and watch 18 football games at once.

Rough gig. Somebody has to do it.

Anyway, the Browns, like all teams, send press releases so people will talk about them. And after I read it, I started thinking about something, and then started thinking about writing something about what I was thinking. That’s how these blogs often work.

And here’s what I think: It would be in the best interest of the Browns to try to matter in Columbus as this latest new group tries to build a brand, have success and sustain it. I’m not alone in my thinking.

“Columbus is an extremely important market to the Browns,” new team president Alec Scheiner said in a statement announcing the deal with 95.5 FM. “This addition to our network will allow our fans in this region to follow all of our games as well as other team programming.”

We know the only way the Browns are going to grow their fan base and visibility is to win on the field, and we know that’s 100 times more important than any marketing deal or radio announcement. But in just a few months on the job the new leadership group has already done a new radio deal in the home market and made several big-money hires in areas pertaining to winning (read: profiting) off the field even if the team isn’t winning on it.

I don’t live in Columbus — at least not on a full-time basis — but I see a lot of Steelers gear when I’m there. And a decent amount of Colts gear, too. And the Bengals are on the rise, and they’re only 110 or so miles away.

Columbus is far and away Ohio’s largest city. In the profit and TV viewer-driven world of the NFL in 2013, it’s a very valuable battle ground.

On Sundays at 1 p.m. in the fall, the Columbus CBS affiliate often has a tough decision to make on which game to show, Bengals or Browns. The way I understand it, showing the Browns almost always used to be the relatively easy call. The results of the last couple years when both teams play in the same window have changed that thinking. The bottom line is, if the Bengals are playing significant games in the back half of the season, the Bengals are going to be on TV.

In that case, Browns fans are going to have to go to the bar (they’re undefeated at that) or to the radio. And over time, the team that’s on more TVs is generally going to both gain and keep the most fans.

Additionally, I don’t know if NFL teams are still going to be leaving town for training camp very often anymore now that the new CBA has eliminated two-a-days and so many teams have so many amenities in their own, full-time buildings. But Browns CEO Joe Banner comes from the Eagles, who always went out of town for camp. And if that’s something the Browns ever explore, Columbus is not only going to be on the list of places to explore but probably at the top. More people equals more money and more buzz, and training camp remains one of the few things in today’s NFL that teams are selling on their own.

Columbus is very much a football town, and there’s every reason to believe it’s going to be home for the next several years (at minimum) to a championship-level football team that plays (almost always) on Saturdays. NFL scouts will be flocking to Ohio State, and it can’t hurt the Browns to make an effort to sell themselves around the city. Whether it’s riding the wave or starting a new one doesn’t matter. Keeping and gaining fans there does.

The NFL reaches its fans 12 months a year these days. The league and its 32 teams like when fans reach into their wallets.

Mostly, this is something to blog and talk about. But with Andrew Luck, the Steelers and the Bengals sharing that 200 or so mile radius, the Browns have a battle on their hands to regain Columbus. It will be interesting to see if they can.

Adding Hoyer makes things interesting, to say the least

BEREA, Ohio – Thursday was the third day of Browns OTA practices and the first open to the media. It was a beautiful, sunny day that featured a practice with a noticeably faster tempo than has been seen in Berea recently, Brandon Weeden operating the first-team offense and head coach Rob Chudzinski answering a question about the quarterbacks and the possibility of adding another by saying, “all of that remains to be seen.”

And, yes, what happens from here very much remains to be seen.

Multiple reports early Thursday evening said the Browns have signed Cleveland-area native Brian Hoyer, who was released by the Arizona Cardinals early this week.

Again, the Browns are three days into OTAs. And they’ve decided to add a quarterback who’s now on his fourth team in nine months. That says something — maybe a lot — about what the decision makers have seen from Weeden and Jason Campbell in minicamp and the first three days of OTAs. We know zero about the team’s plans for Hoyer at this point, but you don’t sign a guy a week into OTAs to be a third-stringer.

That makes what remains to be seen pretty interesting. When it comes to not having a certain starting quarterback, interesting doesn’t usually mean good.

Perpetually interesting, these Browns. For 14 years now — minus Derek Anderson’s three magical months in 2007 and Tim Couch’s periodic flashes of brilliance in the back half of 2002 — this franchise has searched for anything resembling an answer at quarterback, and that’s why the people calling the shots for this franchise have changed so much.

This new group has now added another to the mix. If there wasn’t really a quarterback race before — and there probably wouldn’t have been had Weeden been anything resembling good from now through August — there is one now.

To this untrained eye, the best quarterback on the field at Thursday’s practice was Campbell, the veteran signed in March to his fourth team in five seasons. That opinion means nothing; really, one May practice means nothing in the grand scheme, especially with a new staff installing new things and still on what has to be a nametag basis with its players.

But now a new guy joins the mix; a guy who, like the other guys, has played a little and has done little to indicate that great things are ahead. We don’t know how they’ll try to spin it, but the Browns certainly have a quarterback question and might have a full-fledged quarterback competition on their hands, one that brings back bad memories of Anderson vs. Charlie Frye and Anderson vs. Brady Quinn and — I guess — Colt McCoy vs. Seneca Wallace, if that ever really happened.

Here’s what Weeden said not long after Thursday’s practice when asked how he’d felt out there: “My third day was not as good as my first two days. Day One and Day Two, I was making completions everywhere.”

Here’s what Weeden said when asked if he thought he’d be the starter: “I’m approaching it that way. I’m approaching it that I’m going to take the next step and be that guy.”

The team’s latest move suggests, at very least, a dissenting opinion.

Stay tuned. As always, it promises to be interesting.