- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The AFC coaches met with the media Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. Here are five issues addressed by Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shumur and my reaction:
On whether Shumur wants running back by committee or a featured back: "I think you make the running back position a little bit what you have available to you. If you have one of those feature guys, I think he's out there quite a bit. I think it's fair to say in this league it's hard to play 16 games with just one guy. I think that position has gotten to where you need two and sometimes three guys to come in and be productive. That may be just the nature of where it's going in this league." Hensley's reaction: In other words, if the Browns draft Trent Richardson, they will have a featured back. If they are left with the likes of Cedric Benson, Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson, it will be a running back by committee.
On the Browns' wide receiver group: "First off, if we can get Greg [Little] to develop. He battled through last year and did some fine things. If we can get him to develop his consistency, which happens between Year 1 and 2. Jordan Norwood did some good things for us. Think for a moment about how you'd use the running backs, use a few of them. That would be the same at wide receiver. Josh Cribbs, I think of him as an outstanding special teams players that is a very productive receiver. It's proven he has some of his best games in our biggest games. Mo Massaquoi. He started the year with some nagging injuries and I think it affected him. Not that he didn't battle through, but it affected him. We couldn't see the best of Mo last year because of that. I'd like to sit down and see what Carlton Mitchell can bring to the table. Very fast and tall. He got in to games and made a couple of plays last year. We have to see if he can develop to the point of being a trustworthy guy." Hensley's reaction: This is a group filled with No. 2 and No. 3 receivers. If the Browns don't address this position in the first round, this will be among the worst wide receiver group in the NFL once again.
On whether a rookie could start at right tackle: "I think he could. I think you'd expect him to play in a way [right guard Jason] Pinkston did last year. Again, we're talking about a guy that needs to improve. But he went in and probably performed at a higher level than I expected." Hensley's reaction: The Browns could get value on an offensive tackle early in the second round. The name that is getting thrown around is Mississippi's Bobby Massie.
On why the run defense failed despite good play from both defensive tackles and middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson: "Stopping the run is gap control. The ball can go a lot of different places, regardless of where it starts. We need to do a better job of making sure we secure the other places, as well. I think some of the areas we're very good in is preventing the good, and that is the essence of good defense. That's what you're looking to do." Hensley's reaction: The Browns made some strides in their run defense when they signed free agent Frostee Rucker. Upgrading at outside linebacker would also help a defense that allowed 147 yards rushing per game.
On if there is any decision that Shurmur regrets as a first-year head coach: "One regret? Oh boy. I'd have to put a little thought into that. I've obviously thought about a lot of things. There's some things that I'll never do again, but I'll keep those things private." Hensley's reaction: Here's hoping that pitch play to Armond Smith on fourth-and-one is among those things that Shurmur will never do again. What would be on everyone else's list on this topic?