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Monday, September 15, 2014
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Published: Monday, 4/25/2005

Browns, Lions revamp offenses

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

There should be no complaints from either Joey Harrington or Trent Dilfer next season that their passing-game options are limited.

Both the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns are now receiver-rich after this past weekend's NFL Draft, and both teams appear to have decent-enough running games in place, as well.

Cleveland, which ranked No. 25 in total passing and 28th in total offense and scoring last season, added Michigan talent Braylon Edwards to go along with last year's top pick, tight end Kellen Winslow, and returning receivers such as Dennis Northcutt, Antonio Bryant, and Andre Davis.

Surprisingly, Detroit took a wide receiver with its first pick for the third straight year, adding ex-Southern Cal star Mike Williams, who did not play last season, to a stable that includes Charles Rogers and Roy Williams.

Barring injuries, which is never a given with the Lions, Harrington and/or his backup, veteran Jeff Garcia, should be able to improve on last year's statistical performance which found Detroit No. 23 in total passing and 24th in total offense and scoring.

Maybe it was overkill, but the Lions ended the draft the way they started it, taking another receiver, Oregon's Marcus Maxwell, in the seventh round.

Cleveland's passing game not only will feature a new top receiver but an all-new quarterbacking corps that is currently made up of the veteran Dilfer, third-round draft pick Charlie Frye of Akron, and former Bowling Green star Josh Harris, who did not play last season after being signed in mid-December off the Baltimore practice squad.

They will look often to Edwards, who was destined for greatness from the age of 12, according to his father, former NFL running back Stan Edwards.

"This is what he always wanted to do, and that's about the age I realized he had the ability to do it," the elder Edwards said Saturday after his son's introductory news conference at the Browns' facility in Berea, Ohio. "There was never a time that I said, 'Hey, let's play catch,' that he didn't want to. There were plenty of times he wanted to that I didn't, but I'd go because I knew it might lead to a day like today.

"This day has nothing to do with me. This is Braylon's day. I'm just a dad, but maybe one who had a little more information than most dads. And based on what I knew, if a kid can run fast, run precise routes, and catch the ball - that if we did those things over and over - it would be fairly easy for him to be a good receiver."

Stan Edwards, who played for the Houston Oilers and Detroit Lions from 1982-87 after a college career at Michigan, said that Braylon's biggest adjustment, "will be the same as most college receivers, learning the ability to beat press coverage. But he's physically strong. It's documented that he can do 31 [bench press] reps at 225 pounds, which is lineman-like, but nearly unheard-of for a receiver. He's strong and he knows how to use it.

"The other thing he'll do is ask for help. That's how he has become so accomplished, by listening to people. And when something's not going right, he's the first to look in the mirror. He's a perfectionist."

It would figure there will be plenty of three-receiver sets in both the Browns' and Lions' futures.

"That's the first thing you start thinking about when [the draft] unfolds that way," Lions offensive coordinator Ted Tollner said. "If all three of our guys are healthy and ready to be productive like we believe they can be, you have to get them on the field on more than just third-down situations.

We have to use them and still take advantage of [running back] Kevin Jones.

"We call it the mix and in our terminology the mix downs are first and second downs when you have normal down and distance. We'll have to consider now being in more three-wide [sets] and being able to establish a solid run game out of a one-back set."

While the Lions hope to do that with Jones, the Browns have some depth at running back with returnee Lee Suggs and recently acquired Reuben Droughns.

With that offensive potential under their belts, both teams used yesterday's later rounds of the draft to improve defensively.

The Browns took Oklahoma cornerback Antonio Perkins in the fourth round; Kansas defensive end/linebacker David McMillan, a candidate to help in the transition to a 3-4 defense, in the fifth round, and outside linebacker Nick Speegle from New Mexico in the sixth round.

With Frye in place, the Browns traded backup quarterback Luke McCown to Tampa Bay for another sixth-round pick and used it to take defensive tackle Andrew Hoffman from Virginia.

The Lions, without a fourth-round selection, opted for Connecticut quarterback Dan Orlovsky in the fifth round, and then used two sixth-round picks on defensive ends Bill Swancutt of Oregon State and Jonathan Goddard of Marshall.

Contact Dave Hackenberg at:

dhack@theblade.com

or 419-724-6398



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