During his Wednesday morning press conference, Browns head coach Eric Mangini announced that the players had elected their captains for the 2010 season and they chose a diverse mix of talent in all three phases of the game.
Two captains were selected to represent the offense, defense and special teams, meaning six players will have the customary captain’s “C” sewn onto their jerseys. Three-time Pro Bowl left tackle
“We’ll get together once during the week and meet, sort of a state-of-the-union-type meeting,” said Mangini. “If there’s any suggestion or anything that they want to add or any questions that I have, it’s formalized that way. If anything comes up during the course of the week at a different time, they are always welcome to come talk to me, as is any player. I really like the group of guys that were elected and I think they’ll do a great job.”
Thomas, Dawson and Cribbs served as Browns captains last year. Delhomme was a multi-time captain for the Carolina Panthers and Fujita wore the “C” for the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints defense last fall.
Though they are new to the Browns, Mangini was not surprised by Delhomme and Fujita being recognized as leaders by their teammates.
“I think it’s great and I have had that happen different times,” said Mangini. “We brought Alan Faneca in and he was elected a captain in New York. They are really good people. They have inherent leadership qualities. What I always look for in captains is they’re always pushing the group to do the right thing. Sometimes, you can do the convenient thing or the popular thing but you need your captains, you need your leadership to push everybody to do the right thing in a way that people will want to follow.
“I think all of those guys have those attributes,” he continued. “With Robaire Smith, he’s tough, he’s physical, he is really smart and conscientious and even though he is a little bit more quiet than the rest of those guys that we talked about, it’s apparent. His leadership is felt in other ways. I like the group a lot.”
Mangini has especially enjoyed watching Delhomme become a leader for the team after hearing what he could bring to the Browns besides physical talents.
“Everything that people said about him was positive,” said Mangini. “You couldn’t find one person, you couldn’t find a disparaging word and you’re not looking for that. You’re just looking to get to the truth. It was person after person, it didn’t matter who you talked to whether it was the head coach, the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator, players that he played with, people in the building, it just was universal the type of guy that he is.
“Here’s a guy who’s had a lot of success,” Mangini continued. “He’s come up the hard way, but he’s had a lot of success and it hasn’t changed him one bit. That was always one of the things I always liked about Tom Brady, had a ton of success and he was the same guy every time I dealt with him. He was the same guy and that’s hard to do. You get a lot of praise and all of the things that come with success and to be that grounded, I think it’s a special trait.”
PREPARATIONS FOR TAMPA BAY
Mangini saw a lot of comparisons between the way the Buccaneers and Browns ended their 2009 seasons. The Browns finished 4-0 over the last month and the Buccaneers posted a 2-1 record with a win over eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans to their credit.
As he leads the Browns into Raymond James Stadium Sunday afternoon, Mangini will do so with the knowledge that this Buccaneers team is ready to take the next step.
“They made a lot of progress as the season went on,” he said. “I think, especially defensively, they improved in quite a few categories and as you look at their defense last year, they were very successful in the passing game. They were 10th in pass yards-per-game and first downs achieved through passing and it’s an area which I think is a strength of theirs.
“The other thing that they have done well is turn the ball over, finishing up 10th in the NFL in takeaways, with the bulk of those being interceptions,” continued Mangini. “They are ninth in the league in interceptions. This is a team that has the ability to create turnovers and they’ve shown that last year. In their running game, they had some struggles last season, but they have done quite a bit this year in terms of the young guys they have added to the defensive line and some other people they have added to that group. I have seen the improvement in the preseason in that area.”
GETTING TO 45 PLAYERS
Every NFL team is permitted to have eight players on the practice squad and 53 on the active roster. However, when it comes time to play the games, teams must trim their rosters down to 45 active players.
Though the final decision on what eight players will be inactive for the game is several days away, Mangini has an idea of how the 45 is going to look Sunday.
“You always have to wait because you don’t know what is going to happen during the course of the week, but you start on Tuesday,” he said. “These are the guys we think are going to be inactive. You try to practice accordingly, but you can’t not practice those guys because that could change pretty quickly too. You want to give the offense, defense and special teams an idea of this is who should be up, this is who probably is not going to be up and make sure you balance the reps accordingly.”
The Browns made four roster moves Tuesday when they waived offensive lineman
Vallos, a Boardman, Ohio native, spent all four years of his NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks, while Roberson had been on several practice squads before being activated for his first game with the Buccaneers against Miami on November 15, 2009.
“With Vallos, he was actually a guy that I spent time with prior to the draft,” said Mangini. “I remember he’s a very bright kid. I liked the meeting, I liked him coming out of college and then Seattle ended up getting him. When he became free, obviously Mike (Holmgren) had more experience with him than I did from a coaching perspective, but the time that I had spent with him, that exposure and the college tape, he was a guy that I liked as well.
“With Roberson, he is a guy that Brad (Seely) and I had talked about when the cuts had come out because he is a very good special teams player,” he concluded. “In college, he had always been a conscientious student of the game, you know, the typical buzz words that go with those types of guys. He seems to have intensity when he plays and even in meeting with him and talking with him, you feel that as well. That’s what we were looking for from him.”