Swapping Catches for Leadership

Swapping Catches for Leadership

While Antonio Bryant and his 1,000 yards receiving may have left for San Francisco, the Browns got something perhaps more valuable with free agent Joe Jurevicius: leadership.

The Browns gave up catches for leadership when they decided to not re-sign Antonio Bryant and instead signed Joe Jurevicius, an eight-year veteran who previously played for the Giants, Buccaneers and Seahawks. He went to the Super Bowl once with each team.

Bryant caught 69 passes for 1,009 yards in 2005. Only four other players in Browns history had surpassed 1,000 yards. Ozzie Newsome did it twice.

Jurevicius had the best season of his eight-year career in 2005 when he caught 55 passes for 694 yards and 10 touchdowns while playing for the Seahawks.

Jurevicius signed a four-year, $10 million contract with the Browns on the opening day of free agency, knowing Braylon Edwards is the No. 1 receiver, or at least will be when he fully recovers from knee surgery. Jurevicius doesn't know whether he'll be the No. 2 or the No. 3 receiver. Nor does he care.

"I understand my job is to come here and help this team win, whether it's catching footballs or blocking downfield or helping the younger guys and maybe answering a question for them," Jurevicius said. "I've never been a guy worried about 1, 2 or 3. Catches will come. Blocking will come. Big plays will come.

"I get just as excited watching Braylon Edwards catch a touchdown pass as I would if I caught it myself. That's part of the team concept. That's how I've always tried to mold myself."

It's a bonus for the Browns that Jurevicius grew up in Timberlake, a tiny town about 20 miles east of Cleveland. Now 31, he followed the Browns in the days of Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar.

When explaining why he did not try to re-sign Bryant, General manager Phil Savage said he wanted an unselfish player to lead a group of young receivers. It also helps that Jurevicius is 6-foot-5. Edwards is 6-3 and a leaper. Kellen Winslow Jr. is 6-foot-4.

"I think it's going to pay real dividends in terms of our overall offense," Savage said. "The thing you forget about Joe is he's really a big man. We feel he's going to be able to do some things in the red zone. You start imagining a little bit about Joe, K2 and Braylon out there going for those jump balls in the end zone. You think it's going to be favorable for us."

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