Cleveland Browns general manager Tom Heckert spoke with the local media Sunday night about all of the transactions the team made over the weekend. He talked about the benefit that some of our new players will have, the tough decision to place a guy like Brandon Jackson on the injured reserve, the reason why six receivers and four tight were kept, and more. I have posted most of Heckert's press conference transcript after the jump, because he had a lot of noteworthy things to say. [Read full transcript here]
The Usage of Armond Smith, and the Other RB's
(On Armond Smith and if they plan on using him)- "Yeah, he’ll be active for the game so we’ll see how it goes. I don’t know how many touches he’ll get, but he showed a lot in the preseason."
(On Smith’s preseason fumbles)- "Obviously we don’t want him fumbling the ball, but it wasn’t a problem in college. We don’t think it’s a problem, just something that happened so we’re not overly concerned about it."
(On how much of a leap of faith it is to think that Montario Hardesty can be the guy they thought he was when they drafted him)- "I really don’t really think it’s that big of a leap of faith. We like him, we think he’s turned the corner with coming off the injury. Obviously, we’re going to find out here in a week. We fully expect him to be what he was when we drafted him. That’s the plan and we’ll see how that works out."
(On deciding to put Brandon Jackson on injured reserve and if eight weeks was too long to wait)- "That was really tough. He’s a great kid and we think he’s a really good player. It’s just at that position, it’s tough to do. You just can’t find a roster spot to keep him. You’re going to have three running backs most of the time, so really you’d end up keeping four running backs with him. We’re thinking more long term with Brandon. We like him, we have him under contract for a few more years. We didn’t want to get into a situation where we had to force the issue. If one of our two guys got hurt or nicked up we’d have to do something else then we would probably had to shelve him anyways. It’s going to be a little bit of time, there’s no surgery involved, but it’s going to be a while before he’s able to do anything."
The Late Decision to Sign a Third Quarterback
(On Thaddeus Lewis and if they plan on keeping three quarterbacks all year)- "Yeah, that’s the plan now. We probably weren’t going to do that, but when Thad came available we just decided to go in that direction. We kind of had it change a little bit as of last night."
(On what he likes in Thaddeus Lewis and why he felt they needed a third quarterback)- "I think it’s more the fact that we really like this kid. Like I said before, I think we probably weren’t going to go in that direction. We were probably just going to stick with two, but this kid, we really liked him. Obviously, Pat coached him, but we talked about him last year when he was available. He was on their practice squad all last year and we talked about possibly trying to get him. He’s a guy we loved in the draft when he came out and he’s just a very talented kid. He’s very accurate, I think he was 70 some percent in the preseason. I think he was 70-something last year. He’s got a strong arm, he’s a good athlete. We just like everything about the kid and we’re really excited to have him."
The Linebacker Situation (Lack of Depth)
(On his thoughts about Quinton Spears)- "He’s guy who obviously came from a very small program, but we think he’s a very, very talented kid. He’s almost 6-5, he’s 240-something and he can run. He can also put his hand down on the ground and rush the passer. We thought he was very productive in the preseason and he was in college so we just decided to bring him in and see what we have. We’re excited to have him."
(On Titus Brown’s injury and if he’s worried about depth at linebacker)- "Obviously that’s one of the reasons why we claimed this kid (Spears). We think Titus is going to be back here relatively soon, I don’t know exactly when, but I don’t think it’s going to be a long term thing. Obviously we have to wait and see if Chris (Gocong) is going to be able to play, but we are a little thin there."
(With Titus Brown’s injury, how close was he to keeping Brian Smith on the roster)- "There were a few guys that we liked, him and obviously (Benjamin) Jacobs. We had guys that we liked and it’s just we wanted to see this Spears kid and bring him and in and see how that goes. There are a lot of close calls in this whole thing and they were one of them."
(On if he has any new developments on Gocong’s return)- "Not really, he’s coming along and it’s just a matter of time. We’re hoping for this week and we probably won’t know for a couple more days. We think he’s going to be back this week, but like I said, we don’t know that for sure."
The Decision to Keep Mitchell and Six Receivers
(On not being able to see much of Carlton Mitchell due to injury and what makes him think that Mitchell can be a factor in the rotation)- "Obviously that’s still a little bit of a guessing game. He’s a very, very talented guy and we thought he was having a tremendous camp before he got injured. He looked good and unfortunately he had kind of a freak injury. It’s unfortunate for everybody, but we do think he’s a very talented guy and we’re willing to take the chance that he’s going to be what we thought he was. We’ll have to see how many plays this year, but we’re willing to keep him on the roster."
(On not being able to evaluate Carlton Mitchell and deciding to keep him on the roster)- "Like I said, the times when he was out there I thought he improved from last year, I really do. He came in in phenomenal shape, he’s hands were good and unfortunately he got hurt. Obviously, we’re sticking with him and we think he’s got very big upside, but like you said, it’s a little bit of a guessing game because we didn’t get to see a ton of him. We’re still on board with him and we’ll see how it goes."
(On keeping four tight ends and why they kept a heavy load with six wide receivers)- "Everywhere I’ve been we’ve kept six wide receivers so it’s not too many for us. We’re planning on throwing the ball a little bit. We like all those guys and it’s the same with the tight ends, in this offense the tight ends are a big part of it. We like all four of those guys. I don’t know if it’s a number thing, it’s more of a we like the players there and we think they’re the best 53 guys."
The Potential Split Time Between Benard and Sheard
(On splitting time between Marcus Benard and Jabaal Sheard at first or if Sheard is ready for a normal starters workload)- "I think he’s ready for the normal starter workload, but I don’t think we’re going to play these guys 100% of the time. The ideal situation is to get enough guys to rotate them and hopefully I think in a normal year you want your guys playing 60% for the starters and the other guys play the 40%. We’ll see how that goes. Hopefully, the (Emmanuel) Stephens kid can come in here and help us and obviously with Marcus here that should be able to take some reps away from these guys. The ideal situation is to be able to rotate all eight of those guys."
(On Marcus Benard development as a defensive end)- "Me, personally, I think Marcus is a defensive end. You can talk about the 3-4, 4-3 all that stuff, but he’s definitely not a 4-3 linebacker, I don’t think. He can do it in a pinch, but I think he’s a defensive end. People talk about his size, but he’s a 260-265 pounds and that’s plenty big enough. It’s all leverage and I think he does a good job with that. Obviously, we all know he can rush the passer, but if he’s going to be rotating in there, he has to be able to play the run too and I think he can do that."
The Strength of the Starting Fullback
(On what Owen Marecic showed him this preseason)- "That he can block and that’s what a fullback does. I think he’s a very good blocker and we know he can catch the football. Obviously, if he has to run the ball, but a fullbacks not going to run the ball much anyway. We think he’s a true all-around fullback and we thought he was very productive. He’s super smart and he picked up the offense well and he can block."