Cribbs back at Browns camp, eager to get the ball
Josh Cribbs is confident he will make plays for the Cleveland
Browns. As usual, he’s not certain when or how.
The dynamic kick returner caught some passes, lined up in the
backfield a bit, and even completed a pass in his return to
practice Friday after missing three days of team drills with a left
”My leg feels fine,” Cribbs said. ”I needed to get out there
for conditioning, just to get back in the groove.”
The Browns have long sought to get Cribbs into their offensive
flow, using his breakaway ability in a variety of roles out of the
backfield or at wide receiver. A quarterback in college, Cribbs was
a key part of a wildcat formation often employed last season by
Eric Mangini, fired as coach after a 5-11 finish.
New coach Pat Shurmur won’t utilize the wildcat much, but
intends to get the ball to Cribbs in other ways.
”He is not a big fan of the wildcat, but he is a big fan of
giving me the football,” Cribbs said. ”Every way he can, out of
the pocket. I don’t know if you saw me at quarterback when Colt
(McCoy) pitched the ball to me, but he is going to do everything he
can to put the ball in the hands of guys that can make plays.”
Shurmur said essentially the same thing.
”He’s not going to be limited,” Shurmur said. ”Cribbs is a
fantastic player and we’re going to try and put him in position to
make plays – however we can do it.
”There are some routes I think he runs very well. I think he’s
progressing as a receiver.”
Rules changes have moved kickers up 5 yards, but Shurmur doesn’t
think it will hinder the star returner.
”There’ll be some strategy to it,” Shurmur predicted. ”At
times, the ball is going to get popped up in the air as high as you
can, then try and get the coverage down and swarm the returner. If
situations dictate that returner is out of this world, you don’t
want him to touch it, and you have a kicker that can bang it
through the end zone, then you’re not going to let him touch
Cribbs was coy about his opinion on the rule change.
”I have a lot of thoughts on that, but I can’t define it
because I’d probably get in trouble,” he said.
Cribbs believes new special teams coordinator Chris Tabor is
ahead of the game in making adjustments.
”Tabor is a really good scheme artist,” he said. ”He had
(Devin) Hester in Chicago. He is doing a great job at teaching the
guys up front on how to block deep sets, to get their hips turned
around, fundamental things that are going to make our special teams
unit a great team.”
Shurmur was pleased by the strong play Friday of first-round
pick Phil Taylor, the 338-pound defensive lineman.
”He’s a giant,” Shurmur said. ”When you have a big force in
the middle, that makes it difficult to run between the tackles. You
start eliminating options. He held up well.”
Defense dominated despite cornerback Joe Haden not practicing
because of a tight hamstring and rookie lineman Jabari Fletcher
being carted off with a sprained right knee.
Notes: A group of NFL officials is spending time at camp to
explain the rules. They showed an NFL-made video of illegal hits
and emphasized that rules are not to limit players, but help them.
… A ”Family Day” practice Saturday open to the public at
Cleveland Browns Stadium will sometimes resemble game situations
along with serving as an ordinary workout, Shurmur said. … There
is no timetable for WR Mohamed Massaquoi (right foot) to start
practicing, but plans are for RB Montario Hardesty, recovering from
knee surgery, to have some off days during camp to avoid setbacks.
… P Richmond McGee, signed after Reggie Hodges tore his Achilles
tendon, is working out as a holder for Phil Dawson.