By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
(One in a series of Browns Spotlight articles brought to you by North Olmsted Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.)
The last Browns minicamp practice ended with a solitary player staying over for extra work on the JUGS throwing machine.
As footballs were projected one after another, fullback Owen Marecic lined up 10 yards away and caught every one while his teammates scampered off for summer vacation.
The lasting image of Marecic’s second season with the Browns was of balls glancing off his hands on simple flare-out passes. One, two, three, four – each attempt for Marecic was dropped. The drops were the focus of Marecic’s offseason and preparation for his third training camp.
“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “That’s not what I want to be. I don’t want to be characterized that way. It’s something that I know I can do, I just have to do it.”
After his rough start, the pass attempts stopped, and so did other opportunities for Marecic last year. He appeared in 10 games and had no rushing attempts to go with his four dropped passes. When a lead blocker was needed, coaches substituted with a tight end.
After a coaching change, Marecic, a fourth-round draft pick in 2011, is hanging on to a roster spot by a fingernail.
Although he is the only true fullback on the roster – the lone lead-blocking specialist – the new Browns’ coaches have incorporated others in the role. At minicamp, these included halfback Chris Ogbonnaya, second-year H-back Brad Smelley, and new tight end Kellen Davis.
Coach Rob Chudzinski was non-committal about how he would fill the role.
"I've never really had a true definition of what that guy has been, just because it has been so different in the course of the different places I've been,” he said. “I think what you do is find what those guys can do well and you adjust to what they can do.
“Whether it's a true fullback who is a hammer blocking-type guy or a finesse pass receiver or a guy that has been a tailback before. I've kind of all had those guys. We'll be flexible with what they can do. What we need to access once we get the pads on is what different guys can do in pads."
Thus it shapes up as an extremely important training camp for Marecic.
“Lots of urgency to make sure I’m making the most of every opportunity I have,” he said. “I just try to be a football player, try to do everything well. Every day, get a little better at something else.
“Going through OTA’s and minicamp, I think we have a lot of confidence as a team. We’re going to come back ready to go, ready to go in camp.”
|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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