Cleveland Browns wide receiver Davone Bess has been a member of the roster for one week now, after having been traded by the Miami Dolphins during the NFL Draft. In the near future, Mike Krupka of DBN will have a piece showcasing some of Bess' strengths as a receiver.
In the mean time, Bess was interviewed this past Thursday on 92.3 The Fan by Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps. The interviewed lasted less than ten minutes, but Bess really emphasized how he goes into each season with a clean slate mindset -- that is, he acts and trains as if he is an undrafted free agent all over again, looking to prove himself to doubters. Considering he has a three-year contract extension with the Browns worth over $11 million, though, perhaps he can rest a little easier at night.
Here is the interview that I transcribed (alternatively, you can listen to it here):
Phelps: "Are you happy to be a Cleveland Browns? Because I think it would have been a big shock that after five years in Miami, the only team you'd been with, and then boom -- all of a sudden, you're traded."
Bess: "Hey, that's the nature of this business. I'm thankful for, most importantly, the opportunity here. It's a great organization that carries this great vibration of tradition. Everybody deserves another chance and change is good, so I'm happy to be in brown and orange. I'm looking forward to it."
Baskin: "I'm sure you've had the chance to talk to Chud already, and you've had the chance to talk to Norv Turner. What's your initial reaction to working with them? Knowing how offensive-oriented those guys are, I would think it'd be fun to be a wide receiver in this spot."
Bess: "Absolutely. Just looking at their track record, knowing where they came from, especially Norv being in San Diego, watching tape and seeing a bunch of the film, they were able to put up a lot of points, move the ball a lot, and be really explosive. That's something that this league has turned to -- being more explosive, getting more chunks out of each play. I'm looking forward to it; not only that, they're just great guys. It would be really hard to play for guys who you didn't think were good people. So that's going to be an honor, and I'm happy to be here."
Phelps: "You come to Cleveland with the reputation of being a slot receiver. That's the way the Dolphins used you it seemed primarily. How were you used in Miami, how do you think you'll be used in Cleveland, and how do you want to be used?"
Bess: "Well, I had about 3 or 4 different coordinators in my five years there. Everybody had a different approach to how they wanted to use me. I look at myself as being a dynamic player. I can play anywhere, inside or outside, wherever they need me to play and be productive to get 110% out of me. With that being said, going forward, being here in Cleveland, new opportunity, a chance for me to kind of open up and 'do me' so-to-speak. I'm looking forward to the challenge, and whatever they have in store for me, I'll be ready. "
Phelps: "As a guy who wasn't drafted, and you come into the NFL as a free agent, that usually means, 'ok, this guy is going to be on the practice squad' or 'he's going to struggle for 2 or 3 years and may or may not make it in the league.' You made it from the start, and you have produced in each of your five seasons at least 51 catches a year. How have you done that as a guy who, obviously when you came into the league, you weren't thought of as highly as you are right now?"
Bess: "It was definitely a humbling experience. I had a 2nd- or 3rd-round grade coming out of school early to enter the draft. We all know how the process is -- you never know where you're going to end up. The only thing you can take control of is your mindset. When I didn't get drafted, my initial mindset was to prove everybody wrong; not only everybody, but to prove to myself that I deserve to play and be productive in this league. Every year, I started my clock over. I start at ground zero and work my way back up from the basics and fundamentals to catching the ball. Whatever it is, I never look at the last season, I always start from the beginning as if I was an undrafted rookie every year and having to prove myself. That's been a humbling foundation that I've created and that's something I live by."
Phelps: "As the veteran receiver in Cleveland, what can you show the young receivers in Cleveland?"
Bess: "So far, it's a really talented young group. Guys are big, fast, can run, and catch the ball well. The biggest thing, and I don't come off as a know-it-all type of guy, but every year I was in Miami, I tried to take something from everybody, whether it was the No. 1 receiver or the new undrafted guy. We can all learn from each other. I'm a true believer that iron sharpens iron. Just with my experience and the coaches giving me the opportunity in Miami, throwing me into the fire, and learning on the fly, that's kind of the biggest thing -- the opportunity given, and making the most out of it with your experience. Just giving them a little knowledge a little tips, a little pointers here and there that I've learned along the way, whether it's reading the technique of a defender or his leverage, watching the DB's eyes, keeping my head up, making sure I don't give any signs as I'm coming out of my break, just little things, you know? Those are the differences in the big plays and the teams that make it to the postseason."
Baskin: "When guys switch teams, sometimes it's tough because you come in to an established lot, but now you're coming into Cleveland, where there is a new head coach, and plenty of new teammates to this system -- you're probably looking at 5-6 guys who are new and are going to start this year. Can you talk about what the vibe is over in Berea right now? I know you've only been in for about a week or two. What's the vibe this team has, internally, as far as being successful?"
Bess: "Everybody's jelling together. Everybody is buying into what coach Chud is all about. We're doing it one day at a time. We know it's going to be a long process, but it's all about the process -- you can't overlook the process and just think you're going to get to the postseason. It's about taking pride and just taking every snap one play at a time; catching the ball, and looking it all the way in. The techniques and all of the little things are what is going to add up. The guys are excited. Everybody is fired up for the football season and everybody is working their tail off. You can't really ask for more than that, especially at this time of the year."
Phelps: "Last year in Miami, you played with a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. This year, you come to Cleveland, and you'll be playing with a guy who was drafted in the same class as Tannehill in Brandon Weeden. What have you thought of Brandon Weeden?"
Bess: "Strong arm. Very smart, very accurate. Him and Tannehill are somewhat similar in those departments. It's going to be a long process with myself and him developing the chemistry with me and all of the other receivers. That's what we have spring ball for -- to take our time and develop that chemistry, so I'm looking forward to it. With him and Jason as well, and [Thaddeus] Lewis, everybody's taking reps and helping each other, and that's what is going to make the team better and help us win ballgames come the fall."
Baskin: "There are some similarities with June Jones' offense in Hawaii, and when you look at the offensive set that you are going to get [in Cleveland]. Can you kind of feel that offense and what's going to happen here? With Norv Turner, that's the same kind of family right there."
Bess: "Absolutely. I credit much of my success to June Jones. Just being able to read coverages on the run, being able to find the soft spots in the zones, and being able to be taught from a quarterback's thinking and a quarterback's perspective. It helped make my transition from college to the NFL pretty smooth, so I'm looking forward to what they have in store."