INDIANAPOLIS (92.3 The Fan) – The NFL Combine kicked into full gear Thursday as media availability with NFL coaches, general managers and draft prospects began.
Here are the highlights from the day concerning the Cleveland Browns.
– San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said that he is considering trading quarterback Alex Smith but no decision has been made.
“We’re going to look at all options available,” Baalke said. “Are we going to trade him for sure? No, that hasn’t been decided.”
Baalke had dinner with Smith and his wife following the Super Bowl to clarify the organization’s view of where things stand after Colin Kaepernick led them to the Super Bowl.
“We had a great meal, we had a great discussion,” Baalke said. “I can’t say enough good things. If you ask anyone in the organization, they’ll say the same thing. He is a pro’s pro. Have nothing but great respect for him, his family. And we’re certainly going to do everything in our power to make the best decision for everyone involved.”
The Browns have been rumored to have interest in Smith should he come available via free agency or a potential trade.
One other Browns related note from Baalke – he didn’t rule out looking at Browns kicker Phil Dawson in free agency after David Akers had the worst season of his pro career. “Once again, we’ll look at all options,” Baalke said.
– Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said the decision not to retain Ray Horton as defensive coordinator had nothing to do with his abilities or the respect that Arians had for him.
“I think the Browns got a great coach, a head coach in waiting,” Arians said. “It wasn’t the right fit at the right time for us. We won that Super Bowl together and I’ve got all the respect for him in the world.”
Arians and Horton previously worked together in Pittsburgh but he went with longtime friend and mentor Todd Bowles instead.
I always felt like, had I got a job, I wanted Todd Bowles (to be my DC),” Arians said. “He’s a bright young coach too. Just more history. But I feel Ray is one of the best.”
– Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was very complimentary of both Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and defensive coordinator Ray Horton during his media availability.
“I want some of Jimmy’s secrets because I think he’s done pretty well in the business world,” Colbert said. “What I noticed about Jim right away was his passion for the game of football and at that time the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m sure he’s taken that same mind-set to Cleveland. I always thought that Jim was very knowledgeable about football, particularly the SEC and Tennessee, because he got to see those guys.
“He was always just really inquisitive to what we were thinking. I was inquisitive to what he was thinking also, because of his success.”
As for Horton, Colbert expressed similar sentiments to what Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said earlier in the day.
“Ray Horton is a very intelligent, organized, demanding coach,” Colbert said. “I know that the Browns will be prepared defensively very well, because Ray is extremely thorough. He’s respected because he played the game and has coached the game and been successful at both.”
– Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera continued the rave reviews of the Browns new staff led by Chudzinski as well as offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
“That’s going to be interesting,” Rivera said of the Browns offensive dynamic duo. “They’re both tremendous offensive minds. I had the fortune of being with both of them. I think Norv Turner’s one of the sharpest offensive football coaches I’ve ever been around. I know Chud’s a sharp mind, as well. It’s going to be interesting to see exactly what they try to do and how they want to do it.”
New owner Jimmy Haslam plans to replace the scoreboards at FirstEnergy Stadium and Rivera thinks that’s a good idea because he expects the Browns to light it up in spectacular fashion.
“If he’s anything like he was as an offensive coordinator, it’s really going to try to be slanted toward the offensive side,” Rivera said of Chudzinski’s approach. “He wants to score points. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch them play offensive football.”
– Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said Thursday that they have no intent to trade disgruntled receiver Percy Harvin.
“We have no intent to trade Percy Harvin,” Spielman said. “Anything related to his contract or any discussion will all be kept internally. I think everybody understands what type of player Percy Harvin is. He’s a dynamic playmaker, not only on offense but at different position. But also what he brings us as a kickoff returner.”
– New Bears head coach Marc Trestman said Thursday he felt well prepared for his coaching interviews, including with the Browns, but admitted that he’s still catching up on personnel around the league – especially within the NFC North.
“Over the years, I’d put together a format for an interview process if that opportunity would come up,” Trestman said. “But the opportunity to interview there, in both places, was not only a growing experience but it was exciting and I felt totally prepared at the time.”
When asked about the possibility of the NFL widening the field Trestman joked, “I have a few plays.”
– Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly reiterated that the Eagles were his only choice if he was coming to the NFL on Thursday.
Kelly said reports that he was close to coming to Cleveland were “erroneous.”
“I just thought for me the Eagles was the best opportunity,” Kelly said. “It was the right fit for me and that’s what I felt. So my decision ended up being, ‘Am I going to stay with a bunch of guys and players that I love coaching and had a tremendous amount of success at?’
“If I was going to go anywhere, it was going to be Philadelphia. It wasn’t an elimination of anything. I just thought Philly was the best fit. I just fit in better.”
He also said that he and former Browns coach Pat Shurmur share the same philosophies in the run and passing game and they have clicked in the short time that they have worked together.
“We seemed to hit it off right away,” Kelly said. “Extremely intelligent. Very well thought-out, very detail-oriented. It was just a good fit. There were just a lot of really well-qualified candidates, but it just seemed like we clicked right away. To have a guy in the office right next to you to be able to kind of run things by, ‘Did this ever come up when you were sitting in that chair?’ He’s been fantastic. We’ve been together about 3 weeks now, really just kind of putting things together, his thoughts, my thoughts,
and all of our guys on the offensive side of the ball.
“When we meet, we’ve had really productive meetings, just trying to get some thoughts on paper and put together a playbook.”
– Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that he hired John Dorsey as general manager over former Browns GM Tom Heckert because he was a better fit for Kansas City.
“John Dorsey is very good at what he does and Tom Heckert is phenomenal at what he does,” Reid said. “I just thought as it went, that John [Dorsey] was the best fit for the Chiefs.”