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Gray is 'Jack of all trades' for Browns

Posted Oct 11, 2013

MarQueis Gray may be listed as a tight end on the Browns’ roster, but he offers the team far more than that in the way of versatility.

Back in training camp, Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said, “The best ability is availability,” and perhaps nowhere is that more evident than at tight end, where rookie MarQueis Gray is readying himself for any challenge that could come his way.

Besides backing up Jordan Cameron and Gary Barnidge at tight end, Gray is also the backup fullback, as well as emergency quarterback.

“I’ve got a lot to learn, and I’m blessed for them to realize that I’m capable of doing so many things,” Gray said. “I feel like it’s going to help me in the long run, as far as staying on this team. Anytime you have a chance to get on the field, it’s better than being on the sideline.”

Versatility is nothing new to Gray.

Gray played four years of football at the University of Minnesota, and started 26 games, first as a quarterback, and then, a wide receiver. He passed for 2,053 yards and 14 touchdowns, rushed for 1,731 yards and 12 scores, and gained 766 yards with six touchdowns as a wideout.

”The more the better,” Gray said. “Like everyone’s been saying, ‘The more I can do, the longer I’ll stay and the more I can help out this team.’ Being a versatile player is all good to me. You’ve got to do a lot more studying. On one play, I can be a tight end; the next play, a receiver; the next play, a fullback, or God-forbid, a quarterback. I’ve got to stay in my playbook.”

During last Thursday’s 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills, Gray was called upon to block for running backs Willis McGahee and Bobby Rainey when starting fullback Chris Ogbonnaya suffered a concussion.

Gray almost took a snap in the Wildcat formation, but the Bills called a timeout before he could field the snap. After starter Brian Hoyer went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee, Gray became the backup to Brandon Weeden.

“I’ve been a quarterback all my life,” Gray said. “It’s my first time playing special teams, my first time playing tight end, doing anything but quarterback. That’s why I have to stay in my playbook, to make sure I know what I’m doing.

“You never know what’s going to happen in the game of football. As you saw last Thursday, the quarterback got hurt, the fullback got hurt, and I was next up on both of them, so I had to get ready to go.”

As a fullback, part of being ready to go means quickly clearing holes for the running backs, something that Gray had to learn while competing in training camp with the San Francisco 49ers, and after joining the Browns.

“As a quarterback, I didn’t have to go in and do much blocking, but now that I’m a fullback, I’m going to end up going against D-linemen, D-ends and linebackers,” Gray said. “That’s part of being in  the weight room, getting ready for those types of things.

“Whatever decision you make, you’ve just got to make sure it’s right because you’re blocking for the running back. If you make the wrong decision, then, it could be a loss. You’ve got to be able to get through the hole quicker. You see one thing, and then, on film, you see a whole different thing. That’s one thing about being a professional. You’ve got to take coaching well. Guys have to be coachable and learn from their mistakes.”