With training camp set to officially open on Thursday, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson and general manager John Dorsey were live in Berea on Wednesday, answering any and all questions the media had heading into this year’s sessions. With Jackson humorously dressed in sweatshirt-Dorsey attire, let’s recap some of the big takeaways from press conference.
WR Situation - Looking at Dez Bryant, Josh Gordon’s Status
- The Browns will be down another wide receiver at the start of camp, as WR Ricardo Louis is out for the season with a neck injury. Cleveland is also using the “Did Not Report” label on WR Josh Gordon to help open a second roster spot (at least temporarily).
- Dorsey wants to respect Gordon’s privacy and the team supports him through this time. He does not have clarity as to when Gordon will be back, other than they expect him to be back at some point for the 2018 season. They feel he is 100% committed to the Browns and they are 100% committed to him as well.
- Hue Jackson has not had the chance to speak with Gordon since the news. Dorsey was asked if he knows what Gordon’s statement meant when he said he would be back “soon.”
“Soon could mean many things; soon could mean a month, soon could mean three days. It is soon. I think that when we get to that point when he decides to come back, I think that you embrace him, see where he is and move forward. See where he is physically, in terms of conditioning and being ready to play football. Then, we will see what it is. Who knows when it could be? It could be 10 days, it could be 20 days, it could be 30 days.”
- Cleveland has talked with Dez Bryant, and they will think about the receiver position in the coming days. However, he also cautioned not to read too much into that specifically, since they have talked to a lot of players. While Gordon is out, Corey Coleman will slide into the starting lineup to begin training camp.
- WR Eli Rogers has re-signed with the Steelers. Cleveland will be working out some receivers in the coming days.
Staying Confident in QB Tyrod Taylor
- Despite the praise both Jackson and Dorsey had for rookie QB Baker Mayfield, both were clear that this is Tyrod Taylor’s team.
- Jackson did not want to discuss whether Mayfield will be the No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback to begin camp; instead, he just kept stressing that Mayfield will get the amount of reps he needs. Here is what Jackson said about Taylor being the No. 1 quarterback in camp:
“I think that you have a guy that has played seven seasons in the National Football League and has seen the defenses. As John said earlier, how defenses work and how they come at quarterbacks and all of the different situations that happen in a football game, Tyrod Taylor has dealt with, where Baker has not. Let’s just be honest, you are talking about seven years to a guy that is a rookie. You would hope that a veteran player of Tyrod’s caliber, with his talent and ability – which, and again, we keep talking about what he has done in Buffalo, because obviously, we want him to do that here. That he should have a leg up. If we have done our homework right, which we have. John, like I said, his group did a great job for us of acquiring Tyrod Taylor for a reason, for him to be the starting quarterback. ...
Tyrod Taylor is the starter. I don’t envision any situation where all of a sudden he is getting a bunch first team reps – unless, god-forbid, something happens. But at the same time, there might be a day – please no one hold me to it – a day where Tyrod, all of a sudden, maybe does not go, and Baker’s out there and people go, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It would not be that. Let’s not turn that into now he is going to be the starter. That is not what it is. I am committed to making this work the way we have it, because I feel it’s best for the organization and best for the player. If the players supersedes that, it will show itself. You guys will know probably faster than we all do, because you guys look at it that way. Trust me, I think we’re in a really, really good place right now.”
Hue Jackson’s Different Role in 2018 as Head Coach
- Even though Hue Jackson is still the head coach, now entering year three with the Browns, his role has very much changed into this year’s camp. He now compares himself to a CEO who is overseeing the operation. In my opinion, this was 100% necessary and the only way to justify keeping Jackson for a third season — to see if he could thrive in such a role.
“Well, my role has changed. I have now taken on the ‘CEO’ aspect of it. I kind of oversee it all. That was tough – being very honest with you – when you have to step away from something you love doing. But as I said earlier, it is not about personal wins for me anymore. I have done all of that. It’s about organizational wins. I brought (offensive coordinator) Todd Haley here for a reason, to help this organization get to winning. To me, when you look at it from that standpoint, I hope we all get it. My job is to coach the team. Offense, defense and special teams, I am going to be involved in all of that. Not that I am going to be far from the offense, I am going to help where I can. I will stick my nose in places maybe I should not, but that’s just part of it. I feel good about what I was able to do in the spring – the help I could give, whether it was with the defense, offense or special teams – and I feel I will be even better when we head into training camp that way.”
- Shon Coleman will be the first player to get a shot at left tackle.
- Jamie Collins, Mychal Kendricks, and Antonio Callaway are ready to go for camp.
- Asked why the secondary was revamped so much, Dorsey said, “After you sit and listen to the head coach talk about what he thinks we need, and then you talk to the defensive coordinator and see what he thinks he needs at that time – it was obvious that we needed some players here and that is why we went down the path we did.”
- Ricardo Louis’ neck injury happened late last season and required surgery.