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More of the latest Browns news and notes from around the web in today’s dose of the Sunday Dawg Chow.

Cleveland Browns:

Nick Chubb on rushing attack: It's going to be fun | Player Sound - YouTube
  • Baker Mayfield: Beware of Nick Chubb (ohio.com) - Those who doubt the Browns’ No. 1 back can become a star on the order of a certain former Steeler might take note that Nick Chubb’s rookie year was better than Le’Veon Bell’s.
  • Browns may not use more than two linebackers very often (Browns Wire) - If you are expecting new Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks to deploy three, or perhaps even four, linebackers with Cleveland’s defense, you will be disappointed. Wilks used more than two LBs less than any other coach during his 2018 one-year stint as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
  • Jhavonte Dean aims to make most of latest uphill battle (clevelandbrowns.com) - On a chilly, overcast day in Berea, Jhavonte Dean was again living life on the edge. Lined up at the familiar position of cornerback, Dean dropped back in coverage and was faced with a choice: break up a pass or go for the interception. He chose the riskier approach and ended up in the end zone, bringing the football along for the ride. The pick-six was one of two for Dean on his first day as a tryout player at Browns rookie minicamp in early May. Now, he’s a member of the 90-man roster, the latest development on his improbable path from Homestead, Florida, to the NFL.

NFL:

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Browns are expected to win, but first-time head coach appears to be up to the challenge.

The hype surrounding the Cleveland Browns heading into the 2019 season is the highest it has been in more than 30 years.

Many national media members who cover the NFL have targeted the Browns as a playoff contender. Many fans have taken it a step further with expectations of a Super Bowl run.

Some of those expectations are justified given the roster that the Browns have built over the past few years. The addition of wide receiver Odell Beckham and the expected maturation of quarterback Baker Mayfield should turn the Browns into a top 10 offense. Defensively, general manager John Dorsey has brought in reinforcements for defensive end Myles Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward.

OTA Week 1 Hype | Cleveland Browns - YouTube

So while there is substance behind the hype, the reality is that this is still a team that has not posted a winning season since 2007, has not made the playoffs since 2002, and has only won 11 total games over the past four seasons.

The man in charge of making sure that hype turns into reality rather than disappointment is first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens, who is also No. 2 on Conor Orr’s ranking at Monday Morning Quarterback of the first-year head coaches facing the most pressure:

John Dorsey’s M.O. has always been to take on a large volume of high-risk players and assume that the culture will smooth things out. We’re starting to see the fault in that approach with the team Dorsey built in Kansas City, but for now expectations are high in Cleveland. So high, in fact, that Kitchens wears the weight of a high-profile coaching staff full of name-brand risers in the business and a roster full of mercurial stars. Think this will be an easy gig if the Browns start 0-2?

There is no way of knowing how Kitchens will perform as a head coach until he actually goes out there and does it. But while this is his first time as a head coach, Kitchens is not new to the game. He has been coaching in the NFL since 2006 and should know his way around an NFL sideline.

Kitchens has also kept a level-head when asked about the expectations surrounding the Browns and continues to keep the focus on the hard work that is still ahead of the team.

We’ve been around long enough, however, to realize that a certain level of panic will set in if the Browns struggle in the opening weeks of the season. The inconvenient truth about that is while the Browns will be better this year, they still may be a season away from being a true contender.

That might be a problem in previous years, but this year should be different. While fans and the media will get worked up if the Browns hit a few early bumps on the road, the only person to truly be concerned about is owner Jimmy Haslam, who has continually shown that patience is not one of his stronger qualities.

This is a new year and while that brings new expectations, Dorsey has shown an ability to manage Haslam, so even if the owner starts to get agita, Dorsey should be able to talk Haslam out of doing anything rash.

The expectations for the Browns are high right now and will only increase as the team moves through training camp and the preseason, bringing with it additional pressure.

Bur from what we’ve seen and heard from Kitchens, there is no reason for Browns fans to fear that the pressure will break the new head coach.

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More of the latest Browns news and notes from around the web in today’s dose of the Saturday Dawg Chow.

Cleveland Browns:

Olivier Vernon: "I'm glad to be embraced by this organization" | Cleveland Browns - YouTube

NFL:

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More of the latest Browns news and notes from around the web in today’s dose of the Daily Dawg Chow.

Cleveland Browns:

NFL:

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At least for now.

You typically don’t get a lot of news out of OTAs, but on Thursday, there was some big news that came out regarding Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. Are you ready for the secret? It was almost as good as Bray Wyatt’s secret in the Firefly Fun House.

Baker is back to being beardless!

The end of an era.#beardlessbaker pic.twitter.com/CHwhJPyVJW

— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 16, 2019

According to Matt Florjancic of WKYC, Mayfield shaved the beard after a promise to his fiance for their summer wedding in a couple of months. Long-term, though, the beard will be back, as Florjancic notes that “word is it will return for the start of training camp at the end of July.”

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After 14 years and $33 million in career earnings, Anderson calls it a career.

Last week, former Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson officially announced his retirement. Anderson posted the following goodbye on social media:

“Well here we are. I was just a guy. But still it took a village to help me thru this journey. The teammates, coaches, staff, trainers, eq, friends, and most importantly my wife and family. But it’s made me who I am today! So, to the Ravens, Browns, Cardinals, Panthers, and Bills, I appreciated everything you guys did for me and my family! We all had some serious highs and some lonely lows. I’m gonna miss my teammates and friends dearly, but it’s time for the next chapter. Thank you everyone for always pushing me to be a better person. The criticism, the praise, it always pushed me...the fear of letting my teammates down always pushed me! Just wanted to drop a note and tell everyone thank you one more time.”

Anderson was a 6th round pick by the Ravens in 2005, and Cleveland got him off waivers to be a third-string quarterback. My first year running Dawgs By Nature was in 2006, and that’s when the buzz surrounding Anderson began. I’ll never forget the second half performance, including the long scramble in overtime, he had against Kansas City that year, coming in relief:

Derek Anderson's good moments - YouTube

In 2007, Charlie Frye was the Browns’ starter in Week 1, but was benched and traded. Anderson started the rest of the season, helping lead the team to a 10-6 record. He threw for 29 touchdowns to 19 interceptions. There were many fine moments, but it came to a crashing halt near the end of the season, when he threw four interceptions against the Bengals in a game that ultimately cost Cleveland a shot at the postseason.

Anderson was still with the Browns through 2009, but the magic had run out. In 2009, he started 7 games, throwing 3 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He had a 1-year stint in Arizona in 2010, but really found his “home” in Carolina from 2011-2017, where he got to be the backup to Cam Newton. He even got to go to a Super Bowl in 2015 with the Panthers. Last year and this offseason, he was with the Bills.

In 14 years, Anderson had career earnings of about $33 million. Not bad.

Congrats on the retirement, DA, and thanks for the memories!

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Could serve the rest of his life in prison if convicted on all charges

In 2004, tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr. out of the University of Miami was the Browns number one draft pick and he proclaimed he was “The Chosen One.” On Monday, his defense team was busy choosing a jury that would decide his new future.

As reported by FOX5 television station in San Diego where the trial is being held in Vista, California, jury selection began and the trial is set to begin. He is facing life in prison with a barrage of charges.

Winslow, Jr.’s charges span a wide array of time periods. He is charged with felonies of sexual assault on the same homeless woman twice as two counts of forcible rape, plus first-degree burglary, two counts of kidnapping with intent to commit rape, one count of forcible oral copulation, one count of forcible sodomy, one count of indecent exposure and two counts of residential burglary. In addition, he has misdemeanor charges of elder abuse, battery of an elderly person, and lewd conduct.

Last March, while awaiting trial on the first-degree burglary and out on a $2 million bond, he was arrested for lewd conduct for touching himself in the presence of a 77-year old woman in a hot tub at a local health club. That action resulted in his bond being revoked and he has since been incarcerated without bond.

All of these charges could result in Winslow, Jr. being put away for life. Three separate cases were originally scheduled but have been combined into one jury trial. He has pled not guilty to all charges.

It is speculated that part of his defense could be the result of the brain disease CTE. However, at this time this is only found to be positive once the subject is deceased and a study is performed. His defense team could attempt to use a mental defect defense as a possibility. There are multiple women who currently stand as his accusers, including two elderly women and a then-17 year old female in an incident that occurred in 2003.

Winslow, Jr. was a highly-touted offensive threat coming out of college where he was a unanimous All-American and had captured the John Mackey Award for college football’s best tight end. The Browns were slated to select at the number 7 slot in the first-round, then traded a second-round pick and swap one position with the Detroit Lions in order to take Winslow, Jr. with the sixth pick. Still on the board at the time were QB Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers), DT Vince Wilfork (Patriots), RB Steven Jackson (Rams), SS Bob Sanders (Colts) and OG Chris Snee (Giants).

His first two seasons in Cleveland was a wash as Winslow, Jr. broke his right fibula his rookie year and then had a motorcycle wreck that eliminated his entire sophomore season. He rebounded with his best season in 2007 where he gained 1,106 yards on 82 receptions, five TDs and made the Pro Bowl. The following year he dipped to 43 catches for 428 yards and a mere three TDs.

He was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a second and fifth-round draft pick and then signed a six-year $36 million contract. He led the Bucs in receiving for three seasons. Even though he was productive, the club felt his salary did not match his production and then was traded again, this time to the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks attempted to sign him for less money and when he declined, he was waived a week before the 2012 opening game. The New England Patriots picked him, but after one game he was released. The New York Jets signed him the following year, however, after playing in three games he was suspended for four game for violating the league’s PED program and later released after he was arrested for possession of synthetic marijuana.

After sitting out two seasons, he had a workout with the Green Bay Packers but was not signed. He later played in the developmental Spring League in 2017 and was invited back to the 2018 Spring League, but did not play. Winslow, Jr. is the son of legendary NFL tight end Kellen Winslow who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
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Rookie spent the spring with the Orlando Apollos of the AAF.

The Cleveland Browns signed running back D’Ernest Johnson on Thursday.

In a corresponding transaction, the team waived running back L.J. Scott, who had just signed with the Browns on Monday.

Both moves were announced on the team’s website.

It’s Been A Long Journey. No Matter What You Do Never Give Up On Your Dreams. Stay Focus On The Ultimate Goal, Sometimes The Process Don’t Come Fast It Takes Time. All Glory To The Man Above ✍ SlowGrind ™️ #DawgPound pic.twitter.com/67E82NFUsR

— D'Ernest Johnson (@DernestJohnson2) May 16, 2019

Johnson, who is 5-foot-10 and 208 pounds, was last seen on the roster of the Orlando Apollos of the Alliance of American Football league, where he shared the backfield with current Browns quarterback Garrett Gilbert. Johnson finished the season as the league’s third-leading rusher with 372, while adding two touchdowns.

Johnson played collegiately at the University of South Florida from 2014 to 2017, and finished as the school’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 4,186. He added 73 career receptions (a school record) for 899 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Johnson was not selected in the 2018 NFL Draft, but spent some time with the New Orleans Saints during the team’s three-day rookie minicamp that spring. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Johnson was working as a personal trainer before joining the Apollos.

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More of the latest Browns news and notes from around the web in today’s dose of the Daily Dawg Chow.

Cleveland Browns:

NFL:

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Browns head coach talks about Beckham, Hunt and the new guys on defense.

The Cleveland Browns held their second day of Organized Team Activities on Wednesday, and with it came the opportunity for head coach Freddie Kitchens to meet with the media.

The majority of the questions focused on the offense - most notably wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (who was not in attendance on Wednesday) and running back Kareem Hunt (who was) - with a few tidbits tossed in about the defense.

Here are a few highlights (all quotes from clevelandbrowns.com) from Kitchens time with the media.

Freddie Kitchens: "This time of the year is for knowledge more than anything else" - YouTube
What about Beckham not being around for offseason workouts?

Much has been made about Beckham coming to Cleveland for his introductory news conference on April 1 and then leaving town for other commitments. Beckham participated in Tuesday’s OTA session, but was not on the field on Wednesday.

While Kitchens said he would prefer every player be at every practice, he is willing to work with Beckham on the voluntary workouts:

“Listen, I have never disputed the fact that it is not important for him to be here, but it is also also important for him to be mentally ready to be here. I’m not giving him an out by any stretch of imagination, and nobody here knows the conversations that Odell and I have. I’m just saying it is better for him to be here when he can present his best self – emotionally, physically, everything. Odell Beckham is going to be here in the fall, and he is going to be a good football player in the fall just like he has been.”

On Hunt getting a second chance

The Browns got their first look at Hunt this week. While there is no denying his talent, Hunt, who is facing an eight-game suspension to start the season, needs to continue to put in the work to make his second chance pay off:

“Everybody in life has messed up. Not everybody gets second chances. He understands the gratitude of the second chance and what he has to do with it. I think he is making the most of it. He really is. There is a difference in coming back, getting a second chance and just doing what you are supposed to on the field and going home and just being good; but he is doing more than that. He is trying to have some outreach about him about what he is doing and his mistakes. He hasn’t denied anything. He owns up to it, but he also understands that is a platform to get better and affect other people.”

What about the players talking big this offseason?

A number of the new guys have talked about taking the Browns to the next level. Most notable among those was Beckham telling GQ magazine that he wanted to help turn the Browns into the next New England Patriots.

While some have been bothered by that, Kitchens is keeping things in perspective:

“I think maybe Odell was saying that he wanted to get to that point. Hell, I do, too. I want to get to that point. I think the New England Patriots have played 587 playoff games or something like that (laughter) with the collective team that they have on their roster right now. (Patriots QB) Tom Brady has played in nine Super Bowls and won six of them. I want to get to there so we can print that. I want to get to be what the Patriots are. Everybody in the National Football League, if they don’t tell you that they want to be what the Patriots are, they are lying to you. I think that is what he was saying. He wasn’t making predictions. We are not going to be in that business of making predictions. We are going to predict that we are going to work hard the next day and put our efforts into that.”

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports The offense is not the only side of the ball

With so much of the focus being on the offensive players, Kitchens had some fun reminding everyone not to forget about the defense:

“I don’t know if you guys got the AP Wire. Is there an AP Wire still going on these days? Anyways, we signed some defensive guys that can play some football. We really did. (DT) Sheldon Richardson, (DE) Olivier Vernon, (S) Morgan Burnett, we added some pieces on defense, too. Hopefully, you guys in the fall start talking about them a little bit.”

Myles Garrett has some additional help

Garrett led the team last season with 13.5 sacks and made his first Pro Bowl team. Now the additional pieces are going to benefit Garrett:

“(Olivier) can also help No. 95. He can also help Myles by him being on the other side. The more good football players you put around Myles, the better he is going to be, just as is the case with anybody.”

The Browns will hold the third of their 10 OTAs on Thursday. Expect plenty of talk tomorrow about who is (and is not) in attendance.

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