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Transcript from conference call with Browns GM Tom Heckert

By Nate Ulrich Published: September 5, 2010

Browns General Manager Tom Heckert discussed several topics with reporters on Sunday. Here is a transcript from the conference call:


(On his general assessment of yesterday’s moves) -- “A general assessment, obviously we think we kept really the best 53 at this time and that get us ready to go for Tampa.”

(On how much activity is expected in the next few days) -- “It kind of depends on what happens. Another waiver wire will be coming out here very shortly. Obviously, there are some guys that are going to be getting claimed from all over the league and once they claim guys they are going to have to release somebody. There will be another round of cuts today and we will just have to see who is going to be available.”

(On carrying 12 linebackers and the status of D’Qwell Jackson) -- “That obviously part of it. Twelve is a lot of linebackers but with D’Qwell, obviously not going to be ready for the first couple games or whenever he is going to be ready, we are not 100 percent sure yet. That factors into it. That’s always a case when you have guys injured, you are going to keep extra guys at certain positions. We will have to wait and see these next couple days to see if we stay at that number but it is what it is right now. That is kind of where we are at.”

(On if Jackson’s timetable is still where they hoped) -- “Yes, we are very excited about that. We think he is going to be back soon rather than later, but the exact date I am not quite sure on that. Hopefully, it’s not going to be too far into the season.”

(On Montario Hardesty’s situation and if he was a risky pick because of his history) -- “He obviously tore his ACL and we put him on IR.He  Was it riskier than somebody that didn’t have any injuries? Yes, I guess. We brought him in for physicals and we spent a lot of time with our doctors and we felt comfortable doing it. To answer your question, was it riskier than a guy that had never been injured? Yes, but we felt comfortable when we took him that he was going to be okay.”

(On how comfortable he is with the running back situation with losing Hardesty) -- “It’s a blow. We expected him to be here and he is not. I think James Davis played very well in the last game. I think James Davis had a good preseason last year. He was a guy that obviously the Browns liked when they drafted him and he was a guy that we liked in Philadelphia. We think he can be a productive player for us. Right now with (Jerome) Harrison and him, and Peyton Hillis had a good preseason. We think we are comfortable there.”

(On if players like Shaun Rogers, John St. Clair and Floyd Womack will be ready for Week 1) -- “That’s the plan. We will have to see. St. Clair, his wasn’t an injury situation so that one is going to be okay for sure. The other two guys, we will see how they practice this week, but we expect them all to be ready to go for the first week.”

(On if he has any examples of players coming back from two ACL surgeries on two different knees and how confident he is that Hardesty will be back) -- “I am sure everybody says this all the time but the doctors that did the surgery, they said it was strictly the ACL and the rest of his knee looked good. We are treating it as a normal ACL tear and he will come back. The two ACLs on different knees, I am not sure, but we had Correll Buckhalter in Philadelphia. I know he had at least two and it might have been on the same knee, but it might have been the other. I don’t know for sure. He came back and performed very well for us. I don’t if it was two different knees or the same knee but he defiantly had two ACLs. If it was the same knee, I can’t remember that but we are confident that he is going to come back and be fine.”

(On if they need to add depth at corner with only three guys currently) -- “We think we have four because we throw Mike Adams in there as a two-way player. Mike played corner for us last year and at the end of the year he was our starting corner. We think we have four corners, but that is something that we are looking at. Right now, we think with Mike being the kind of guy that can play both corner and safety, we think we are okay right now.”

(On if Hardesty had surgery already and when it is scheduled) -- “No and I don’t know that.”

(On how much better the team is now than when he took over) -- “We are going to have to wait and see on that one. We think we are improved. We think we have added some players in free agency, trades and the draft. We think we are better but there are probably 32 teams that say that right now. We have to kind of wait and see what happens during the season, but we think we are improved. We really do.”

(On if Hardesty had a micro fracture surgery in 2006) -- “I don’t want to get into that. I’d have to go back and look at it exactly. I am not real sure. I really can’t answer that to be honest with you. I don’t really want to get into all that, what surgery he had and what he didn’t have.”

(On if they wanted to keep young wide receivers and let them develop) -- “We didn’t really look at it like that. We like the guys we have. With the guys that we have that have actually played and then we throw Carlton (Mitchell) in there. Carlton is a young kid that we think has a big upside. They are not old guys, but the other four guys have actually played. We didn’t look at it like we were just going to get young at that position. We just felt those guys were solid players and they can help us.”

(On when Rogers will be ready to play) -- “We think he is going to start practicing here this week. We think he is going to be ready to play. Obviously, we will have to wait and see how he practices and how everything goes, but we are expecting him to be out there.”

(On if they have to add a veteran receiver like T.J. Houshmandzadeh) -- “No, I think we are going to be good with the guys we have for right now.”

(On if there is a concern of team speed on the defense especially the front seven) -- “Right now it’s not. The 3-4 defensive linemen, you are going to get what you get. You aren’t going to have any stellar, stellar athletes in there, I don’t think. The linebackers, I think Scott (Fujita) can run. We know (Chris) Gocong can run. D’Qwell is obviously out but he can run. I don’t think it’s a concern for us.”

(On if they made a pitch for Vincent Jackson) -- “I can’t talk about other team’s guys, sorry.”

(On if they might add a safety and why Larry Asante was waived) -- “The first part of it, we will have to wait and see what happens. Right now, we are okay with what we have and we will see what happens on today’s cuts and maybe work some guys out and see how that goes. As far as Asante, I think he is going to be a good player. Right now we have a bunch of safeties with Nick (Sorensen) and Ray (Ventrone) both being really, really good special teams players. It was a tough decision, but hopefully we can get him back here on the practice squad and see if he can help us out down the road.”

(On if Nick Sorensen will be out along time) -- “That one I am not sure about. We don’t think so, but we are going to let our doctors handle that one. We don’t think it’s going to be a very long time.”

(On what this team’s chances are of winning) -- “I think we are going to compete, I really do. I think we all said this when we came in here, this is not going to be a rebuilding deal where we are just going to wipe out everybody and start all over and be whatever we are. We think we have a chance to compete and that’s our goal. It’s easy to sit here and say I think we are a playoff contender and all that, but we will have to wait and see how the season goes. Like I said, we think we are a good enough team where we are going to compete in every game. We will have to wait and see what happens.”

(On Abram Elam tweeting that the Browns added Quincy Butler) -- “That was kind of erroneous. I have to talk to Abe about that one (joking). There are a bunch of guys that we have contacted and whether it’s a tryout or bringing guys in just to talk to them. There’s a bunch of guys like that, but we have not done anything with that right now.”

(On Jake Delhomme’s preseason play) -- “Jake’s obviously had a great preseason. We all said it, I don’t know how many people believed it, but we all thought Jake is a good quarterback. We all know about last year and it seems like we talk about it all the time and it happened and we all know that. Jake has won a lot of football games. He has completed a lot of passes and we fully expected him to come in and help this team win. So far he has proven that. With the regular season starting up this weekend, we will see how things go, but Jake has been great. He is a team leader. He performed well in the preseason so hopefully that continues.”

(On Rogers potential moving to defensive end) -- “That is a question for Eric (Mangini), but I think if you talk to any coach in the NFL and you’ll hear, ‘You can’t have too many defensive lineman.’ (Ahtyba) Rubin has done a great job. When he had to play last year, he played well. He has played great for us so far. It is great to have both those guys and I think it does give us some flexibility to do some things and move guys around. Obviously the nickel stuff, we are going to play different people. Just adding another guy, especially a guy like Shaun, that can only help our defense.”

(On how the final decision process goes) -- "It really went well. It's an ongoing process. Eric and I talk everyday about certain things and I think Eric mentioned his list and where he puts guys and what sections. I meet with him and we talk about these guys and we go all the way through the whole thing. Then we got with Mike (Holmgren), I'm not sure when it was. Thursday, I think we had a long meeting with Mike, myself and Eric and we just went through everybody position by position. We talked about the players and it wasn't like 'I want this guy and I want this guy,' it doesn't happen like that. No matter who is in charge and I've been in all the different situations where it's the head coach or whoever, you just talk it out and decide what's best for the football team. Obviously, it's a very difficult time for all of us, especially Eric, who has been around these guys. I've gotten to know a lot of these guys and it's a tough decision no matter who makes it. It's not 'I want this guy or this guy because I like this guy better.' It's who can help our football team and what these guys mean to us. We struggle with the guys we let go and it was all difficult. The whole process went very smoothly and I think it worked out very well."

(On what Sheldon Brown has left) -- "I think he has a lot left. Sheldon is a good football player. He is a very intelligent player, he's a super instinctive guy and he is a very tough guy. He is definitely going to help our football team."

(On if Peyton Hillis' preseason performance take some of the edge off losing Montario Hardesty) -- "There is no question and I think James’ performance was the same way. We got Peyton Hillis and he is a proven running back. Whatever happened in Denver at least the last year where he wasn't getting that many carries but when (Mike) Shanahan was there he got the ball. I think he can run the football and James Davis has played well in training camp and the preseason. Obviously if you throw Peyton in over there we have three capable backs."

(On Nick Sorensen) -- "He is feeling a lot better and he is doing well. The final decision has not been made as when exactly to put him out there. He still has to meet with our doctors and we are obviously going to be careful with this kind of thing and we'll just have to wait and see. But he is doing well, he really is."

(On some of the qualities the team now has that they didn't have when you were in Philadelphia) -- "I guess the biggest thing is when you lose a ton of games when you start off the season, you say, and I don't want to say disarray, you always think of a team falling apart, but winning those last games that changes your mind a little bit. Being around all these guys, it's a very team atmosphere. In my opinion, I've never been around where we made so many wholesale changes with starters like we have here a little bit, but I think they've all meshed. I think the new guys have meshed well with the guys that were here before and I think it's a good group of guys. I think we all said that, Eric, Mike and myself when we first got here, those are the kind of guys we are looking for: team guys that love football and are going to be smart, work hard and be the right kind of people. I think we are getting to that point where these guys are all working together for the same goal. I think it's a good thing to be around."

(On if the team has enough pass rushers) -- "That remains to be seen. I know we had two or three sacks in the preseason and that's not enough, but in the preseason you are not going to do the same things as you do in the regular season. We do have to get pressure on the quarterback, there is no question about it. I still think we are moving in a direction where we are not sure exactly how we are going to do things, at least we haven't shown what we are going to do I should say. We'll have to wait and see on that. Shaun (Rogers) coming back will be a big bonus for that too. He can collapse the pocket and give us some pressure there so we'll see how it goes. We do have to put more pressure on the quarterback, there is no doubt."

(On David Bowens thinking he was not going to make the final roster) -- "I guess I can see where David was coming from because he wasn't playing a whole lot and we did that by design. David is an older guy and Eric does a good job with those guys. We need those guys for the season and that's a positive for Eric. Obviously, he knows who can play and who can't play and to waste a lot of reps with David during the preseason, that wasn't the thing we wanted to do. I can see where David was coming from and there were a lot of guys who were worried and that's just part of the business where nobody's job is safe, mine included. It's all performance based and everyone says in the back of their mind is saying 'am I going to be here or aren't I.' He's here and I guess that's the end of it."

(On if there was one person who made a case for themself in the last preseason game) -- "I don't know about just the one game. I don't think we went into it saying if this guy plays well in the last game we are going to keep him. I think it's a combination of all the way through training camp and the whole preseason. There were a few guys that, obviously they had to perform well or they weren't going to be here. The backup defensive linemen and the running back situation, you had some competition out there. I think those guys obviously played well enough for us to keep them. To say one guy from one preseason game no, it really didn't come down to one game."

(On if David Bowens' intangibles went into consideration) -- "I don't know if it entered into a whole lot for us keeping him but he does have all of what you just said. It's great to have David here. He is obviously a great leader; he does a great job with the young guys. He knows what he is doing and he has been around for a long time. He brings everything you want from that aspect. But, we think David can still play. All that other stuff is all fine and dandy but you still have to be able to perform and we think David can."

(On how involved was Mike Holmgren with the entire process) -- "Yes, we talk all the time. Eric and myself, we talk about what we are thinking all the way through this whole thing. Like I said, I believe it was Thursday, maybe Friday, I don't know when we met, but we just went through the whole thing position by position and how many we want at each position. He was definitely involved."

(On if there is any uncertainty with the right side of the offensive line) -- "I don't really think there is that much uncertainty. I think actually the way the preseason played out it was unfortunate where we had three guys who had to leave for personal reasons and one guy was hurt. It was bad at the time, but we got to see everyone play and I think it helps, in my opinion to say that we are going to be alright. I think when John St. Clair played he played well and when Tony Pashos played he played well. Shawn (Lauvao) played well and then we had to move Billy Yates over to start at guard he played well, so I think it actually helped us come into this thing feeling that we are going to be ok."

(On if he has any regrets about playing Montario in the final preseason game) -- "No. It was something we all talked about. He hadn't taken any hits and obviously he had a knee thing but it wasn't the knee that he hurt. As it turned out it was bad but it wasn't like he reinjured his knee. Montario was on board as well. He wanted to play and we felt comfortable with him going out there and playing, it was just one of those things that happened."


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