BEREA, Ohio—T.J. Ward will not only be making his NFL debut on Sunday. He will be doing so against former Browns tight end Kellen Winslow.
A tall challenge for anybody, let alone a rookie.
“There will be combinations on how we play it, but I’m sure there will be times when he will be in the situation,” coach Eric Mangini said. “Sure, it’s tough, but there is going to be a lot of tough players to go against.”
Winslow is currently the best weapon the Bucs have in their passing game.
“Kellen had an excellent season last year and I think their offense will continue to develop and get better,” Eric Mangini said. “I think they have an emerging group of players in the passing game adding them to what Kellen can do.”
Ward said he respects Winslow, but isn’t intimidated.
“I think he’s a very good tight end I’m just going to go in there and try and compete,” Ward said. “I don’t really concentrate on how good he is.
“Of course, you study your opponent,” he said.
Ward was asked if he’s hoping to make a big impression in his first game.
“Every game is an opportunity to make a statement,” he said. “But, that’s not what my focus is on.”
One of the first moves made by Mangini when he became the Browns head coach was the trading of Winslow to Tampa Bay for draft picks. The pick was used to select Mohamed Massaquoi.
Winslow had 77 receptions and five touchdowns in 2009.
“It’s an opportunity we had and something we talked about at the time to do,” he said. “He’s a very good player.”
New Captains: Not too many times does a new player become a captain.
However, the Browns voted Jake Delhomme as one of two offensive captains and LB Scott Fujjita as one of two defensive captains. Both were elected, despite not having played a down for the Browns as of yet.
Pro Bowler Joe Thomas was the other offensive captain and DL Robaire Smith the other defensive captain. WR Josh Cribbs and K Phil Dawson were the special team captains
Besides Delhomme and OL Joe Thomas, the special team captains are Josh Cribbs and K Phil Dawson. On defense, LB Scott Fujita and DL Robaire Smith were voted as captains.
Mangini isn’t surprised that Delhomme and Fujita were voted in as captains.
“I think it’s great,” Mangini said. “I’ve had that happen with new players before. They have inherent leadership abilities and what I like they are pushing the group to do the right thing, in a way that people want to follow.
“The guys on the team vote on the captains,” Mangini said. “I really like the group of guys and think they will do a great job.”
Thomas said he’s honored to be once-again voted as a captain.
“I’m very proud to be voted on by my teammates to be a captain,” he said. “It’s going to be an important role like it was least season.
“Hopefully, we can build on what we did last year.”
Delhomme is very proud of being a captain.
“That’s always an honor of anything you get to accomplish in the NFL to be elected captain,” Delhomme said. “It means more to me than anything else because it is voted on by people who know you best.”
The 35-year old quarterback knows there is a lot of responsibility at his position.
“I am who I am and certainly I think the quarterback position, naturally, gets all the press and I take a great deal of pride in it and try to do the best I can.”
Browns Run out of Time with Veikune: Mangini said he still thinks that LB David Veikune has a future in the NFL, but the Browns just couldn’t wait any longer on him.
“I do think he does,” Mangini said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think we could wait any longer on him. I think he’s worked very hard and you wish you had plenty of time to keep letting these guys work.”
Mangini brought up linebackers Titus Brown and Marcus Benard as players who reduced Veikune’s opportunity.
“Titus Brown has worked very hard and Marcus Benard and those decisions are not easy, but we just couldn’t wait any longer.”
Mangini selected Veikune in the second-round (52nd overall) in 2009 and he was never able to consistently get on the field. He finished his rookie year with no tackles.
“You want to be right on every pick, you really do, but it’s not an exact science,” Mangini said. “He’s making strides to hit his ceiling.”
Injury update: The Browns haven’t released their first injury report but OL Floyd Womack (knee) was scheduled to practice Wednesday for the first time in almost a month. Mangini said that Womack and DB Nick Sorenson’s (concussion) availability won’t be known until later in the week.
“Floyd will be back (Wednesday) and will practice,” Mangini said. “Both he and Shawn (Lauvao) will work with the ones and the same thing with Tony (Pashos) and John (St. Clair at right tackle). We’ll make a decision later this week.”
St. Clair missed the past week for personal reasons.
Mangini said it will be wait-and- see with Sorenson.
“I don’t think we’ll know until the end of the week.”
Sorenson is recovering from a concussion he suffered in a horrific collision against the Lions in the third preseason game.
“I haven’t seen the replay, but I want to,” Sorenson said.
Sorenson said that Mangini called Sorenson’s wife within minutes of the injury.
“That meant a lot to me,” he said. “All of the support I had from my teammates I can’t put into words.”
Mangini said that Rogers is progressing.
“For the part we’ve asked him to do, he made it through fine and we’ll ask him to do more,” Mangini said.
New Guys: The Browns most recent roster moves were the addition of OL Steve Vallos and DB Derrick Roberson.
Mangini said he interviewed him prior to the 2007 NFL Draft, but the Seahawks drafted him in the seventh-round.
“He’s a very bright kid and I liked him coming out of college,” Mangini said. “Obviously, Mike (Holmgren) had more experience with him at Seattle.”
Vallos (6-3, 310) replaces Billy Yates on the roster and is wearing No. 68. He grew up in Boardman, Ohio.
Roberson (5-10, 180) was an undrafted free agent from Rutgers signed when the Browns released LB David Veikune. Roberson wears No. 22.
“With Roberson, (special teams coach)Brad (Seeley)and I had talked about him when cuts came out because he’s a very good special teams player.”
Hot Room: Trying to simulate the heat of Tampa Bay, the Browns practiced indoors with the heat turned way up. The field house felt as if it was over 80 degrees during practice.