BEREA—With all of the drama surrounding the Cavaliers and LeBron James, Cleveland fans need a diversion.
How about the Browns and OTAs?
It’s still four months from the first regular season game, but it’s the first glimpse of the 2010 Browns.
“It’s the first time with all of the guys together on the field,” Eric Mangini said. “It gives us a chance to experiment on ideas you might like to use that you haven’t seen in practices.”
Once again, a big topic is quarterback. Gone are Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, but newcomer Jake Delhomme is coming off an incredibly poor 2009 season as he joins the Browns.
“Jake’s been here and the quarterbacks have been here working out with plays and installs,” Mangini said. “That’s really been a positive.”
Mangini said that Delhomme has shown that he provides the veteran leadership the Browns are desiring.
“The leadership we heard of in our research has really been demonstrated in his time here.”
Even though the nearly $7 million the Browns are paying Delhomme, Mangini still hasn’t declared him the sure-shot starter.
“I don’t think there’s any specific schedule on that,” Mangini said. “Jake and Seneca (Wallace) are getting the bulk of the reps and getting used to the system.
“Colt (McCoy) and Brett (Ratliff) are getting the third and fourth reps.”
Browns fans seem more concerned with Delhomme’s ability to play, than necessarily his leadership skills. Mangini said he hasn’t spent a lot of time trying to figure out why Delhomme played so poorly in 2009, causing the Panthers to release him.
“We haven’t dwelled a lot on those reasons, because with each team it is so different,” he said. “There’s different dynamics in the locker room and a lot of different reasons.
“We haven’t spent a lot of time in trying to figure out the ‘why’ from last year, but how to move forward and to use him this year.”
Mangini still feels that last season was just a bad year for Delhomme. He admires a lot of things about him and is confident he will be solid for the Browns this year.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of one thing he has done,” he said. “Not to compare, but he reminds me of (Brett) Favre in the way that he enjoys practice and being around the guys.
“He has a good rapport with the offensive guys and the defensive guys,” he said. “You can see that in the weight room, on the field and being around him.”
Mangini Likes Mike: Not only because he is his boss, Mangini said he likes the resource that Mike Holmgren brings to him as being a former head coach.
“It’s easier because you talk the same language,” he said. “Even though you weren’t with the same team, you can relate because you’ve been in the same seat. It’s kind of being a parent. You get it more when you’re in the position and it’s nice to walk down the hall and talk with Mike. He gets it.”
Experimental Time: Mangini indicated that OTAs are the time for the coaches to experiment with ideas they’ve had in the off-season to see if they are possible to incorporate into their 2010 plans.
“At this time of year, there are things we will try and if we like them will carry them into training camp and the preseason,” Mangini said. “There’s been an influx of new ideas into the organization and now it’s trying to see how things fit and whether we’ll use.”
Former West Coast offensive coordinator Gil Haskell and Mike Holmgren are two of the biggest additions.
This was the third day of OTAs, but the first day open to the media.
On Restricted Free Agents: Mangini said that he’s communicated with the restricted free agents that are not present at the OTAs, but offered little new information. RB Jerome Harrison, LB D’Qwell Jackson, LB Matt Roth, FB Lawrence Vickers and S Abe Elam fall into that category.
“I’ve talked to most of the guys at some point,” Mangini said. “Whether by text or when they were in the building.
“You’d like them here, but it allows some of the guys here get more reps,” he said. “Whether, it’s Montario (Hardesty)or Peyton Hillis or whether it’s the linebacker spot or safety. You’d like them here, but it gives a chance for others to show what they can do.”
Roth, reportedly has asked to be traded, but Mangini and Tom Heckert have said that’s not likely.
“Matt’s a restricted guy and falls under those rules,” he said. “I enjoyed coaching him last year. He’s as tough as nails and I like him. To be able to get him and he came in three or four days and got a sack. I really like him.”
Dawson’s Status: K Phil Dawson is missing from OTAs as he was in 2009. The Browns signed veteran K Shawn Suisham earlier this week.
“(Dawson) wasn’t here last year,” he said. “I know Tom talked about it the other day and there’s really not more to say than that.”
Mangini said he was very impressed with Dawson’s performance last year when he made 17 of 19 field goal attempts.
“ I thought Phil did a really good job in a tough environment,” he said. “He’s done a nice job, not only last year but throughout the course of his year.”
Mangini dodged the question when asked if Suisham was a legitimate threat to Dawson.
“We have to get the roster to 80 by the time training camp starts,” he said. “When restricted guys sign and rookies sign, we have to release someone. We have Reggie Hodges here, right now.”
Rogers News: DL Shaun Rogers is not practicing as he rehabs from a broken leg last season. Mangini said he has no updates on Rogers’ status regarding weapons charges brought on him for carrying a concealed weapon to Cleveland Hopkins Airport a couple of months ago.
“There’s been nothing new from the league,” Mangini said.
Rogers is expected to get some type of suspension when Roger Goodell hands it out, is not known.
The Receiver Watch: Mangini was asked if the team would bring in a veteran wide receiver before the start of training camp.
“I think that’s something we look at in all of our positions,” he said. “If we feel we can bring in some depth, we will.”
Most notable free agents still unsigned are former Eagle Kevin Curtis, Jet and Bengal LaVaerneus Coles.
The only drafted receiver this year, sixth-round pick Carlton Mitchell, missed most of rookie camp with a leg strain.
“He was a little dinged in rookie camp and hasn’t been able to get a lot of opportunities,” Mangini said. “He’s done a good job with the information he’s been given. He’s kind of like the rest of the rookies where they do some good things and some things not so well.”
Fujita Impresses: One of the big off-season signings was LB Scott Fujita from the Super Bowl champion Saints. Mangini said he’s been all the team has expected of him thus far.
“He’s been here the whole off season and has done a good job,” Mangini said. “He’s a smart guy and has picked up the information quickly.”