By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: Guard John Greco won’t need to worry about being forced to relocate far from his hometown of Youngstown, at least not for the foreseeable future.
The Browns agreed to terms on a five-year contract with Greco, the team announced Tuesday. Greco’s deal was scheduled to expire following the 2013 season, but now he’s under contract through 2017.
Greco, 28, is the first Browns player brought in by the previous regime who has had his contract extended since Joe Banner took control as the organization’s CEO in October. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
“I’m thrilled,” Greco, a Boardman High School graduate, said during a conference call. “I’m happy that the Browns [saw] value in me, and I’m excited about the opportunity to play for a team that’s ready to get some wins.
“I wasn’t really expecting [the contract extension]. My focus was to come in and have a good camp and be one of the starters. That was really my mind-set and [I thought] contract stuff will take care of itself after the season. But the Browns approached me the other night, and I’m happy we got something worked out.”
Greco came off the bench and started 10 games at left guard this past season after Jason Pinkston was sidelined with a blood clot in his lung. Greco had only four starts in his first four NFL seasons, but he capitalized on his opportunity, impressing the new coaching staff and the new front office.
“John is a solid, all-around teammate, on and off the field,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said in a news release. “He was given an opportunity to play last year and really showed well. He’s respected in the locker room for his approach, consistency and team-first attitude.”
The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Greco spent time at right and left guard this spring and will enter training camp, which opens to the public Thursday, in a three-man competition for two starting spots. Greco rotated with Shawn Lauvao and Pinkston throughout organized team activities and minicamp, though he received the most time with the first-team offense.
The contract extension does not guarantee Greco a spot atop the depth chart, but he’s on track toward becoming a long-term starter.
“That’s absolutely been a long-time goal,” Greco said. “Whatever happened in the past is over. I tried to make the best out of my opportunity last year, and going into camp, that’s my mind-set, that I’m going to be one of the guys.”
The St. Louis Rams drafted Greco in the third round (65th overall) in 2008. They traded him to the Browns before the start of the 2011 season in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft pick.
Now Greco can stay put for a while.
“One of our goals is, whenever possible, to develop and keep our own players,” Banner said in the release. “We’re glad in this case that it worked out, and was mutually beneficial.”
Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner met with reporters Tuesday to discuss his vision for the offense. Below are some of the highlights.
• Turner has been pleased with the progress quarterback Brandon Weeden has made thus far in the team’s new vertical, downfield passing game.
“I think he’s taken to what we’re doing, and I expect him to play at a high level,” Turner said. “This system is really a quarterback-friendly system.”
• In spring practices, the Browns often experimented with Chris Ogbonnaya in two-back sets instead of using Owen Marecic, the only pure fullback on the roster.
So what are the team’s plans at fullback?
“I believe we will end up with a traditional fullback in our offense and how much we’ll use him will depend on the style of offense we end up running,” Turner said.
When asked if Ogbonnaya, a tailback, can fill that role, Turner said, “He can do some of it.”
• Turner said Trent Richardson stacks up well against the best running backs he has coached in terms of natural talent. That list includes Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson.
So could Richardson have 300 carries this upcoming season or is that too many in today’s NFL?
“I would hope Trent would have that many carries,” Turner said. “That means he’s playing healthy and playing at a pretty high level if we give him the ball that much.”
• Turner said Jordan Cameron will get a shot to become the team’s primary tight end.
“We’re going to give Jordan an opportunity to be that guy,” Turner said. “Now let’s put it in his hands. Is he capable of being that guy? That’s why you go to camp. That’s why you go play the games.”
The Browns added depth to their corps of wide receivers by signing Naaman Roosevelt, the team announced Tuesday. The 6-foot, 200-pound Roosevelt has appeared in 16 NFL games, all with the Buffalo Bills.
Roosevelt, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent from University at Buffalo in 2010, has 25 career receptions for 396 yards with one touchdown. In 2011, he appeared in 10 games and set career highs with 16 receptions for 257 yards with one touchdown. He spent training camp with the Bills last year before being cut and sitting out the entire season.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.