The Browns kept busy today by reshaping a chunk of their roster, but they’re still searching for a kicker to face the Miami Dolphins in the regular-season opener Sept. 8 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns announced they claimed the following six players off waivers: running backs Bobby Rainey from the Baltimore Ravens and Dennis Johnson from the Houston Texans, tight ends MarQueis Gray from the San Francisco 49ers and Keavon Milton from the New Orleans Saints, center/guard Patrick Lewis from the Green Bay Packers and inside linebacker Brandon Magee from the Dallas Cowboys.
Rainey is the only player from the group who is not an undrafted rookie, and he’s also the headliner. After missing most of his rookie season with a knee injury, the 5-foot-8, 212-pound Rainey finished this preseason with 23 carries for 89 yards (3.9 average) and two touchdowns to go along with three catches for 17 yards.
The Browns waived fullback/tight end Brad Smelley, a seventh-round pick in last year’s draft, inside linebacker L.J. Fort, undrafted rookie guard Caylin Hauptmann and center Jarrod Shaw. The organization also terminated the contracts of two veterans, tight end Kellen Davis and running back Brandon Jackson.
The Browns now have nine undrafted rookies. Those players account for 17 percent of the 53-man roster.
“Again, our roster is fluid right now,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said in a news release. “We still need to address our kicker position, so we’re not done. We’re a young and hungry team with some solid veteran leaders. I like the foundation we have in place as we enter the season. I’m excited to see what we can do.”
The Browns don’t have a kicker on their active roster after terminating the contract of veteran Shayne Graham and waiving undrafted rookie Brandon Bogotay last week. The team plans to hold a tryout this week and sign someone in the next few days.
Below is background information and quotes from Chudzinski that the Browns provided about the six new players.
The running backs
A 5-7, 193-pound rookie running back, Johnson hails from Texarkana, Ark., and played at Arkansas High School and the University of Arkansas (2008-12) before signing with the Texans on May 10. He played in 50 games with the Razorbacks, rushing for 2,036 yards on 345 carries (5.9 avg.) and scoring 20 total touchdowns (13 rushing, four receiving and three kickoff returns). With Houston this preseason, Johnson totaled 33 carries for 129 rushing yards (3.9 avg.) with one touchdown and five receptions for 31 yards (6.2 avg.).
Rainey, a 5-8, 212-pound running back in his second NFL season out of Western Kentucky, was originally signed by the Ravens as an undrafted free agent on May 11, 2012. During his rookie year, he spent the season’s first five weeks on the Ravens’ practice squad before earning a promotion to the active roster. He was inactive for three contests and was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury on Nov. 13. This preseason,
Rainey led the Ravens with 89 rushing yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns, while adding three receptions for 17 yards. In college, Rainey appeared in 44 career games and recorded 4,542 rushing yards on 895 carries with 35 touchdowns, and added 80 receptions for 682 yards and five scores. He is a native of Griffin, Ga., where he graduated from Griffin High School.
“I like the depth we’ve been able to add at running back,” Chudzinski said. “Both Johnson and Rainey have been productive runners. They also give us some options as a kickoff returner. We’ll look at that in the next few days.”
The tight ends
Gray, whose first name is pronounced mar-KWEECE, is a 6-4, 250-pound rookie tight end who played in all four of the 49ers’ preseason games and contributed on special teams, after signing with the club as an undrafted free agent on May 2. During his four years (2009-12) at the University of Minnesota, the versatile Gray played 47 games with 26 combined starts at quarterback and wide receiver, amassing 2,053 passing yards with 14 TDs, 1,731 rushing yards with 12 TDs, and 766 receiving yards with six TDs. An Indianapolis, Ind., native, Gray attended Ben Davis High School.
Milton, a 6-4, 293-pound tight end in his rookie season from Louisiana-Monroe, was originally signed by New Orleans on May 10. He appeared in all four of the Saints’ preseason contests and recorded one reception for 10 yards. He was waived on Aug. 31. In college, he appeared in 45 games and totaled 220 receiving yards on 25 receptions with four touchdowns. Milton is a native of Canton, Texas, where he graduated from Canton High School.
“Gray has experience as a quarterback and wide receiver,” Chudzinski said. “So he’s a heck of an athlete. Milton gives us a guy with good blocking ability and hands.”
Lewis, a 6-1, 311-pound rookie offensive lineman, signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent on May 10. After starting at guard for Texas A&M his first two seasons, he transitioned to center, where he earned All-Big XII honorable-mention accolades as a junior and bolstered an Aggie offense that finished third nationally in both total offense and scoring in 2012. Lewis, who started 48 of the 51 games he played at Texas A&M, graduated from East St. John High School in Reserve, La.
“Lewis can play both guard and center, so I like the versatility there on the interior of our offensive line,” Chudzinski said.
Magee, a 5-11, 225-pound linebacker in his rookie season from Arizona State, was signed by Dallas on May 10. He appeared in three preseason games and recorded 15 tackles. During college, he appeared in 44 games and recorded 231 tackles. Magee was also an outfielder on the Sun Devil baseball team who helped the team advance to the College World Series twice and was selected in the MLB draft three times. He is a native of Corona, Calif., and graduated from Centennial High School.
“Magee is just a tough, old-school linebacker with good instincts,” Chudzinski said. “I believe he can help us.”