Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Can We Get Reception Here? The sequel

While there’s little doubt who will be throwing the ball for the Cleveland Browns this year – barring injury Colt McCoy is the starter – the question remains as to who will be on the receiving end.

It was right about this time last year that we asked the question Can We Get Reception Here? and, a year later, we’re still looking for an answer.

The Browns currently have 12 wide receivers in camp – Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, Josh Cribbs, Jordan Norwood, Carlton Mitchell, Greg Little, Chris Matthews, L.J. Castille, Jonathan Haggerty, Demetrius Williams, Juan Nunez and Rod Windsor.

Not exactly the second coming of Webster Slaughter, Reggie Langhorne and Brian Brennan.

As Waiting for Next Year pointed out on Monday, the Browns aren’t going to keep everyone. And it will be interesting to see how Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur make the final decision as to who gets a roster spot.

Will they pick the best players for the squad without letting ego get in the way?

After all, they can let go of Massaquoi and Robiskie and not have it be on them – they can lay the blame on former coach Eric Mangini if they decide to part ways with the former second-round draft picks.

So far the Holmgren, Heckert, Shurmur triumvirate haven’t given us any reason to believe that is how they operate, but it will be worth keeping an eye on.

Of course, it may not matter who they decide to keep and, with the season opener still a little more than a month away, things may work themselves out.

Massaquoi hasn’t practiced yet as he has an injured bone in his left foot – turns out bones are important if you are an NFL player.

“He’s progressing,” Shurmur said in published reports. “We’re going to have to go with what (trainer) Joe (Sheehan) and the doctors say in terms of when he’s ready to be out here. I see him watching practice and getting the mental reps. I know he’s probably a little anxious.”

Little is having trouble putting together consecutive good practices.

“He needs to be consistent and play at a high level every day,” Shurmur said. “At times, he needs to catch it better.”

Robiskie is still too slow to get separation against NFL defensive backs – there just aren’t very many Purdue and Northwestern guys out there – and we still believe Cribbs would make a better running back than receiver.

On the bright side, Peyton Hillis and Brandon Jackson are receiving threats out of the backfield, and the Browns have a solid group of tight ends in Ben Watson, Evan Moore and rookie Jordan Cameron.

It would be nice, though, if we could get a clearer signal on the receivers.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

***

In his weekly “Hey, Tony” mailbag in Sunday’s Plain Dealer, Browns beat writer Tony Grossi came up with this gem:

Hey, Tony: Adam Schefter speculated that the Browns are not active in free agency because of all the money they are paying former coaches and GMs. Doesn’t it have to be either that or Heckert, et al do not believe the team is close enough to warrant big bucks on a player or two just to fill holes? They are 35 million under the cap, after all. — Toby Godfrey, Austin, Texas

Hey, Toby: Adam’s point is certainly plausible. The dead money being paid former coaches and executives such as Phil Savage, Romeo Crennel, George Kokinis and Eric Mangini does not affect the salary cap, of course, but it may contribute to a cash crunch that has resulted in the current “don’t spend” philosophy. I appreciate that Heckert is not a fan of free agency, but something is fishy about the team’s approach this off-season.

Fear not, Tony. Because the good news is that Browns owner Randy Lerner reportedly “won a court order for the return of the remainder of his $40 million investment in a hedge fund that had refused to say where the money was invested.”

Now that Lerner and the Browns are once again flush with cash, we don’t have to worry about hypothetical situations and fish smells.

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