BEREA, OHIO (AP) - Players and coaches quietly hustled in and out of the Cleveland Browns training facility on Friday.
But quiet was the order of the day.
While other teams scrambled to add players and make headlines, the Browns did not announce any signings after 6 p.m. Friday, the time at which NFL teams were permitted to officially make moves.
General manager Tom Heckert had advised earlier in the week not to expect the Browns to make a big splash in the free-agent pool.
Turns out, he was right on the money.
"If there’s a good player, we’re going to go after him," Heckert said, "but we’re not going to just go out and sign a bunch of guys because there’s a bunch of guys available."
It was anticipated, however, that Cleveland would quickly announce the signing of draft picks. That did not happen, though Heckert has repeatedly said he and team president Mike Holmgren intend to build through the draft and are proud of this year’s series of picks.
Despite their official silence, the Browns appear to have come to terms with all of their choices except their No. 1, defensive lineman Phil Taylor of Baylor. And defensive end Jayme Mitchell has all but re-signed to a two-year deal.
But on the eve of new coach Pat Shurmur’s much-awaited first practice, still nothing was official.
It’s still uncertain if running back Brandon Jackson is coming to Cleveland from Green Bay, which has been mentioned this week. Jackson would be a welcome addition as a player with significant postseason experience.
He had his best year in 2010 at Green Bay, rushing for 703 yards on 190 carries. He also caught 43 passes for 342 yards. On the Packers’ postseason run to a Super Bowl title, he averaged 4.3 yards on 16 carries and 9.6 yards on eight receptions in four games.
Meanwhile, the fate of veteran kicker Phil Dawson was still up in the air. The Browns’ all-time leader in field goals, and the lone remaining member of the 1999 expansion team, figured his career in Cleveland was over after last year’s 5-11 finish. Then the Browns designated him the franchise player in February, and Heckert has held conversations with the 36-year-old this week.
If and when Dawson returns, he will play for his sixth coach in Cleveland. At least three different management teams have spoken with him about a possible long-term deal, but were out the door before negotiations became serious. Dawson never complained publicly, and instead went out and posted an 82-percent accuracy on field goals. That clip is good for 10th in NFL history.
When the Browns announce their additions, they’ll have to work quickly. Shurmur intends to install a West Coast offense and change the defense to feature four down linemen, instead of four linebackers.
Perhaps fourth-round choice Owen Marecic, of Stanford, can help in both areas. Drafted as a fullback to possibly replace free-agent Lawrence Vickers, Marecic’s claim to fame is scoring twice in 13 seconds on both sides of the ball a year ago.
Against Notre Dame on Sept. 25, Marecic rushed for a 1-yard touchdown, then snared his first career interception as a linebacker and took it back 20 yards for another score in Stanford’s 37-14 win.
Cleveland opens the preseason at home vs. the Packers on Aug. 13. They open the regular season at home, vs. Cincinnati, on Sept. 11.
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