AURORA (92.3 The Fan) – As evidenced last week with the addition of defensive back Jason McCourty the Browns are still looking for ways to tweak and improve the roster.
Browns head coach Hue Jackson made that pretty clear Monday at the team’s 18th annual Cleveland Browns Foundation Golf outing at Barrington Country Club.
“We’ve had that up our sleeves for a while,” Jackson said of the addition of McCourty. “Again, I think Sashi has said we’re going to always try to make our football team better, unturn every stone, every opportunity and we’re not done yet. We’re going to keep looking. So every opportunity to get better we’re going to try to do that.”
But that doesn’t mean that every big name free agent that is out there will be on their radar.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick won’t be getting a call from the Browns – or so it sounded when Jackson was asked about the possibility of adding him.
“We have four bodies here,” Jackson said. “We drafted a guy we feel good about. I think that’s probably everywhere else. Now, I’m not shutting the door on Colin. I don’t want anyone to think we’re anti-Colin or anything like that. That’s not the case. I just think right now we have four guys that are vying for an opportunity to be our quarterback that we feel good about.”
Receiver is still a position of need, but veteran free agent Victor Cruz may not be a match. Cruz, a 7-year veteran, is just 30 years old but injuries have slowed his production in recent years which may be giving the Browns pause.
“We’ve had discussions about any player that’s out there, not just Victor but all of them and see if they fit,” Jackson said. “You know, we’re a young football team and we’re probably more young at the position, but eventually if we feel like a guy can help us, we’ll continue to explore those opportunities.”
Here’s some other notes from the golf outing on Monday:
– Expect rookie DeShone Kizer to have Jackson’s full attention during OTAs and even June’s minicamp, but do not read anything into that. Nothing has changed as far as the depth chart – for now – but Jackson explained how he’s approaching the next few weeks with the QBs.
“I don’t do it by number, I have to do it by feel,” Jackson said of dividing reps. “The first day you might see the young guy with me the whole time. There’s a lot of different things we’re going to do. When I’m talking about the young guy, I’m talking about DeShone, because I want to make sure I have my hand on him as much as I can. It’s not by rotation or anything.
“Cody’s going to walk out there first and he’s gotta keep that job, and he’s gotta do everything the right way in order to continue to lead the first team. The other guys will get opportunities as well, and I think that’s the way you have to do this if it’s a competition.”
– Joe Thomas was glad to see the front office invest in the offensive line this offseason by bringing in J.C. Tretter at center and Kevin Zeitler from Cincinnati. Left guard Joel Bitonio also was given a 5-year contract extension.
“I’m excited, Thomas said. “Obviously the offensive line was not very good last year and I think adding a couple of guys we had will not only our beginning of the season starting five but if we run a situation like we did last year where you have a couple of injuries, you’ve got guys that can step in and be really good players because injuries are going to happen on the offensive line and having guys that are able to move and play different positions well will really help us from an offensive standpoint.”
The starting line is pretty much set barring injuries, with one exception – right tackle – but Thomas has a gut feel of who he thinks will slide into the position.
“I think Shon Coleman is the guy they’re expecting to be out there starting and I think he’s got all of the ability to do it,” Thomas said. “But there’s just a matter of going out there and proving that he can, because he hasn’t had a lot of NFL action yet and there is a difference between showing in practice you can do it and being able to show in a game you can do it, so I think the jury is still out, but he’s definitely the favorite.”
– It sounds like the Browns and fourth-round pick Howard Wilson will not opt for surgery on his broken patella, at least for now. Jackson wouldn’t say definitively that Wilson won’t require surgery because he is going to miss significant time regardless but they will see how his kneecap begins to heal before making the call.
“It’s not like he’s going to walk back out there anytime soon,” Jackson said. “We’re going to let the doctors take care of that and keep advising us on what’s right and what’s the right thing to do with him and for him. And that’s the way we’ll proceed.”
Howard suffered the injury late in the first practice of rookie minicamp on May 12.
– Linebacker Christian Kirksey is ready to play wherever Gregg Williams puts him. Following his most productive season in 2016 inside in the 3-4, Kirksey expects to shift to weakside linebacker in the 4-3 base under Williams.
“He’s a very aggressive guy,” Kirksey said. “So I think he’s going to have us flying around. We’ve got some good defensive linemen in front of us, so as linebackers, we like that. we have Danny in front of me and you’ve got Myles Garrett and a bunch of those guys. I can name a lot. Whenever you’ve got a good defensive line that, it helps free the linebackers up.”
Jackson and the Browns front office have said that they feel Kirksey is one of their building blocks but they’ve yet to sign him to a contract extension which means that, as of now, he can become an unrestricted free agent in March 2018.
Kirksey said Monday he likes Cleveland and enjoys living and playing here but that was as far as he wanted to take any talk about his contract.
“It definitely feels good to know that they want me here,” Kirksey said. “This organization has been great to me, they really care about me as a person and definitely as a player, so it definitely feels good to hear them talk about things like that. I really don’t feel comfortable talking about contract things right now, all I’m doing is just working on trying to get this season to be the type of season we want.”
– Jackson tried to make sure his entire team was on hand for the golf outing Monday but one notable absence was running back Isaiah Crowell. Crowell hasn’t joined the team for voluntary workouts since signing his second-round tender on May 10.