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5 things to know from GM Andrew Berry at the 2024 NFL Combine

Berry discussed Deshaun Watson’s progress, coaching changes and more 

AB Presser 2.27

INDIANAPOLIS — Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Andrew Berry kicked off the Browns' media portion of the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday with his media availability.

"For the past several weeks, we've really spent most of our time just kind of examining our operation from A to Z," Berry said to open his podium availability. "Everything from what we do schematically, what we're doing from a roster perspective, and everything that we're doing operationally to provide resources and support our players. So, we're pretty excited to get to this point in Indianapolis."

The Browns have approached the 2024 offseason with a mind for improvement. They take that next step with the combine as they continue their preparation for the NFL Draft in April.

Here are five takeaways from Berry and his time with the media.

Deshaun Watson to throw in March

QB Deshaun Watson has continued his rehab and recovery process since he underwent shoulder surgery in November to repair a displaced fracture to the glenoid that cut his 2023 season short. Berry confirmed on Tuesday at the combine that Watson will begin throwing in March as the next step in his recovery.

"He's worked his tail off in terms of his rehab and recovery," Berry said. "He's in a really good place. We're excited when the spring hits and we can get him back on the field, but he's making really good progress and we're really excited to see that continue."

The Browns will hold offseason programs in April, but Berry did not want to project too far in advance as Watson begins throwing. However, he reiterated that Watson is on track to throw, and the Browns are pleased with his progress in his recovery. Berry also does not believe that they have to dial Watson back in terms of him keeping the ball and his mobility next season.

Coaching staff changes

The Browns have seen a number of changes to their coaching staff during the offseason. They hired Ken Dorsey as the new offensive coordinator and added five other coaches to the coaching staff – Duce Staley (running backs), Tommy Rees (tight ends/pass game coordinator), Jacques Cesaire (defensive line), Andy Dickerson (offensive line) and Roy Istvan (assistant offensive line).

"The allure to Ken was his varied experience in a number of different offenses, working with different styles of quarterbacks, and then ultimately just his work sample as a coordinator," Berry said. "We thought he fit us and our players. We love his expertise in the spread and RPO game and drop-back world as well. And we think that he's a fantastic addition to the staff."

Berry also added that with all the changes to their coaching staff, it brings a new perspective.

"I think that's healthy in any organization," Berry said. "We will always pride ourselves on trying to stay ahead of the curve and not remain stagnant. That won't mean that we won't have some foundational things that we believe in – whether it's how we build the team, how we play or how we run the operation. But at the same time, we're also not going to be afraid of making alterations."

Approach to free agency

While the Browns are in the thick of the NFL Combine, another important offseason date looms just around the corner. The NFL's negotiation period begins March 11-13  for players who are set to hit free agency. During this two-day negotiation period, clubs are allowed to contact and enter contract negotiations with certified agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents once their 2023 contracts expire. Self-represented players – or unrepresented players – can also communicate directly with members of front offices about contract negotiations.

The new league year and the beginning of free agency will begin on March 13 at 4 p.m. ET.

The Browns have 25 players on the roster that could become free agents at that time, with a number of key defensive players that could hit unrestricted free agents. Berry said that their approach to free agency this year will center more around the state of the current roster.

"That's more what will dictate the approach as opposed to where we ended last season," Berry said. "If you remember when we were in 2020, we made the playoffs, but we were actually still pretty aggressive in free agency the following year because we had a fair amount of work to do with the defense. I can't say that I think we're necessarily going to have that level of volume with the team currently. But things really do change from week to week."

Tackles Jack Conklin, Dawand Jones and Jedrick Wills Jr. progressing from injuries

The Browns dealt with numerous injuries across position groups in the 2023 season and were hit especially hard to their offensive line. They lost T Jack Conklin in Week 1 to a season-ending knee injury, which allowed rookie T Dawand Jones to earn the starting job in Week 2.  He started nine games, but then suffered a knee injury in Week 13 and was ruled out for the remainder of the season following Week 14.

Jedrick Wills Jr. injured his knee in Week 9 against the Cardinals, and was placed on injured reserve Nov. 7, and then underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, and missed the remainder of the 2023 season.

"We do anticipate them being ready for the season," Berry said. "They all have different injuries, so different time horizons for their recovery, but all three of them have been working hard. All three of them are progressing as appropriate, and we do anticipate having them available to us throughout the season."

Berry said that the tackle position is one that they will invest in. They know just how important in the offensive line – especially after dealing with the slew of injuries to that specific group during the 2023 season.

With all three expected to be healthy for the 2024 season, Berry said they are focused on making sure their tackles are healthy and will work through the balance of having three available tackles closer to the season.

Browns headed back to The Greenbrier

The Browns kicked off their 2023 training camp in a different setting outside of Ohio. They spent nine days in West Virginia at The Greenbrier, working their way through meetings and practices throughout their stay. It was an opportunity for the team to spend ample time together and build chemistry, as well as practice as a team together for the first time since June. Throughout the 2023 season, numerous players talked about the role that their time at The Greenbrier played in building their team chemistry both on and off the field.

They are running it back for 2024. Berry said on Tuesday that the Browns will go back to the Greenbrier for a similar amount of time as they did in 2023.

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