By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
(One in a series of Browns Spotlight articles brought to you by North Olmsted Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.)
New Browns tight end Gary Barnidge is an avid moviegoer and amateur critic who writes film reviews on his own Website, moviegameplan.com. He’s hoping this new opportunity in his football career will cast him in a larger role seen on game film.
Barnidge had scant production in four seasons with the Carolina Panthers – 18 catches for 320 yards and one touchdown. But when former Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski joined the Browns as head coach, he lobbied to bring aboard Barnidge as a free agent.
“Gary is a guy who had some injuries earlier in his career,” Chudzinski said. “I think he is a versatile guy who can do both (block and catch) and he is getting better.”
|Gary Barnidge Duncan/AP|
Prior to the Browns’ minicamp earlier in June, offensive coordinator Norv Turner touted Barnidge as “the guy that people will be surprised about.”
Sure enough, Barnidge opened eyes with some pretty good catches in the three-day minicamp.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been given the opportunity to do everything yet, to show everything I can do,” Barnidge said. “I get to do sporadic roles and stuff, but I might get a chance to do more this year, and hopefully show up.”
Chudzinski, a former tight end as a player who broke into coaching at the position, wants to highlight the tight ends in the Browns’ offense. Barnidge is well aware of the potential opportunity awaiting him.
“In this scheme, tight ends are huge,” he said. “We do everything. We move around, we do a lot of stuff. So, it’s going to be huge. We have a great group of guys. We’re all going to rotate in. Everybody’s going to contribute.”
Barnidge’s familiarity with Chudzinski’s offense has thrust him into a leadership role at the position.
“Chud’s taught me a lot,” he said. “I’ve been in this system for two years, so it’s helped a lot knowing everything coming in. I’ve actually helped the other tight ends learn everything, and help bring them along because they haven’t been in the system.”
In Browns OTA and minicamp practices, Jordan Cameron was the No. 1 tight end, Barnidge was No. 2 and Kellen Davis, another free agent signee, was No. 3.
But Cameron has had trouble avoiding nagging injuries in his three years with the Browns and that could open the door for Barnidge to play a larger role. Of the three, Barnidge is the best combination receiver and blocker.
“I can run a little bit, I can catch the ball,” he said. “But I’m really working on blocking. I want to be known as a well-rounded tight end. I don’t want to be known as one or the other. So that’s one thing I’m really working on very hard. I’m working on my technique, and just getting better at that.”
It doesn’t take a trained film critic to see it.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to email@example.comFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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