Browns GM wants to add players
General manager Tom Heckert isn't exactly sure where the Cleveland Browns have improved.
Heckert is certain, however, that he and new coach Pat Shurmur are trying to enhance the roster with younger players, adding depth and energy to a club that went 5-11 a year ago.
''We want to try and get the best possible players in here for our guys to coach,'' Heckert said Sunday after claiming three players on waivers. ''I don't know if we're done. I think we'll make one or two more moves.''
Concerned by injuries depleting depth at some spots, the Browns claimed linebacker Quinton Spears from Miami, defensive tackle Emmanuel Stephens from Atlanta and quarterback Thaddeus Lewis from St. Louis.
''We really like this kid,'' Heckert said of Lewis, who was on the Rams' practice roster all last season when Shurmur was St. Louis' offensive coordinator.
''He's very accurate, has a strong arm and is a good athlete,'' Heckert said. ''He completed over 70 percent this year.''
Lewis went 23 of 32 for 266 yards without a touchdown or interception in exhibition play this summer for the Rams. In 2010, he was 22 for 28 (78.6%) for 255 yards, two TDs and one interception to earn an opening-day roster spot.
Lewis set school records as a four-year starter at Duke, throwing for 10,065 yards and 67 touchdowns.
Heckert said adding Lewis does not indicate any displeasure with McCoy running the new west coast offense installed by Shurmur.
''He's picked up the offense really well and I think you'll see him gain as the season goes on,'' Heckert said, adding that McCoy's already effective leadership qualities have become even stronger.
The general manager is hopeful that Spears, who played wide receiver and defensive end at Prairie View A&M, can transition to linebacker, where the Browns need help. Titus Brown is out with a high ankle sprain, though veteran Chris Gocong is expected back for the season opener Sunday against Cincinnati after missing most of the exhibition season with a neck injury.
''We are thin there,'' Heckert said of the linebacking corps. ''We think (Spears) can play, rush the passer. He can run. We're excited to have him.''
Heckert is continuing to look for help on the offensive line, where starting left guard Eric Steinbach is out for the season after having back surgery Tuesday. Rookie Jason Pinkston is in line to start the opener against the Bengals.
''We do like Pinkston a lot and think he can do it,'' Heckert said. ''We think (John) Grecco can do it. That's not to say we;re not going to add somebody.
It may not be an experienced player, either. Heckert has repeatedly said that he wants to build the Browns through the draft and that claiming younger players falls in line with that philosophy.
''I don't know if we're better or worse, but we are younger,'' Heckert said. ''We wanted that. We want guys that are going to practice every day.''
Defensive tackle Phil Taylor and wide receiver Greg Little, the Browns' first two draft picks, are getting plenty of action.
''A rookie starting in the NFL is not the easiest thing to do, but we drafted Phil to come here and play,'' Heckert said. ''We want to see more of Little. He's got a big body and can catch the ball. He's going to play.''
To clear roster room, Cleveland released defensive lineman Derreck Robinson and waived linebacker Benjamin Jacobs and defensive lineman Auston English. The Browns also signed six players to their practice squad. All six had been waived by the team Saturday: offensive linemen Dominic Alford and Jarrod Shaw, fullback Tyler Clutts, running back Quinn Porter, defensive lineman Brian Sanford and wide receiver Rod Windsor.