By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
The Morning Kickoff …
Checking in with Norv: Before Tuesday’s practice, we had a one-on-one conversation with offensive coordinator Norv Turner about the key issues on the Browns’ offense. Here are some excerpts of that conversation:
Everyone is expecting you to transform Brandon Weeden into a winning quarterback. Are you feeling that from inside the organization and also outside?
“The focus always is on the quarterback but we have to make sure everybody is on the same page and that we’re all understanding our responsibilities and that we’re going out and executing. If we get everybody playing at a high level, including the quarterback, then I think it’s a lot smoother.”
You’ve worked on making Weeden quicker physically. Is he getting quicker mentally, with surveying the field and going through his reads?
“He’s done a good job with the reading and progressions. All three of the quarterbacks, sometimes they may stick on a receiver too long, and it makes them late for the next progression. Sometimes they get off a guy too quick. Both cases we had happen (Monday) in practice. Brandon stayed with a receiver too long. When he came back the guy who was open was covered. Jason (Campbell) had a play he came off a guy too quick and the guy was gonna be open for a 30-40 yard gain. It’s just a matter of playing. When you have the right matchup, you’ve got to win the battles.”
As you’ve gotten to know Weeden on the field now, have there been any surprises or disappointments?
“The one thing that’s very obvious to me, he is capable of making big plays -- with his arm, when he’s in the right rhythm and reading things right. We have receivers making big plays. That’s a real positive. We’re working hard to eliminate negative plays that I really think change a game more than making big plays do.”
Everybody is frustrated that Trent Richardson was out again with a shin injury. Are you confident he’s going to be there when you need him?
“The days he practiced, he was really rolling. I saw him making improvements and really getting a feel for the offense. I understand you saying there’s a frustration and probably the guy who’s more frustrated than anyone is Trent. But it’s a long season and, being smart, we have a lot of time to get Trent ready.”
Josh Gordon looks great one play and then not so on the next. Where is he at right now?
“I’ve gotten to know these guys, Josh, Jordan Cameron, Travis (Benjamin) … they’re young guys and that’s what happens to young guys. You have ups and downs. We’re preaching it every day, to get where you want to be it starts every day. When those guys are going good and we’ve been in a rhythm and everybody’s on the same page, it looks exciting. There are days when it doesn’t look like the way we want it to. We’re working our asses off to get it done.”
Do you know if you can count on Gordon after his two-game suspension?
“He’s working hard to get there. Yeah, I believe we’ll be able to count on him. I think he’s gonna come into this thing when he gets back and really have a good year.
Can he be an elite receiver?
“It’s too early for me to say that. Because there’s more than just the physical skills that go into being that player. He’s physically capable of being a real good player in the league. We just have to keep pushing and working and he’s working to get to that point.”
Jordan Cameron is answering the bell every day, not missing any practices. That’s good.
“He has. And he’s played more physically, and he’s worked hard. It’s an interesting position because it’s a very physical position. You get the ball in traffic a lot. I’m hoping he can become a guy that gives us the consistency we’re looking for on third down plays. One of the things I’ve been most pleased with is that offensively we’re playing real good on third down. Our third down conversion rate (at practice) has been very good I think against a real tough defensive look. We have options on third downs because (Davone) Bess gets on the field, you got Greg (Little), Josh, Jordan. There’s a lot of places to go with the ball when you’re looking at third-and-3, third-and-4, third-and-5.”
Backup running back Dion Lewis looks good. How do you incorporate him in the offense?
“We’ll know a lot more about these guys after three preseason games than we do right now. But Dion has done everything you can ask him to do. Obviously my history, I’ve been involved with a guy of his stature (Darren Sproles). He’s made a lot of plays and if you look out here it on the practice field it looks like Darren. Now you’ve got to transfer that into games.”
How did you use Sproles with LaDainian Tomlinson?
“My first year in San Diego, L.T. led the league in rushing, in 2007. And there wasn’t a place (for Sproles). What happened was we got ahead in some games in the second half of the season and we got L.T. out and started playing Darren. And he was so explosive, we found out he could handle playing on first and second down, could run the ball, and then over the next 2-3 years his role grew to a big-time role. And in our playoff games, some big games we won L.T. was limited because he got hurt, and Darren had the big plays in two of our big playoff games, whether it be screens or a runs. He had the walk-off run against Indianapolis to win the playoff game.”
|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 firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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