PHOENIX: Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians hopes Josh Cribbs can rebound from offseason knee surgery because Arians wants the three-time Browns Pro Bowl kick returner on his team.
Cribbs, a free agent who bid farewell to Cleveland last week via Instagram, had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus after the 2012 season. Cribbs visited the Cardinals on Monday and is expected to do so again once his knee heals more, his agent JR Rickert said.
Arians made it clear Wednesday at the NFL owners meeting he’s aiming to sign Cribbs, provided he checks out medically.
“I would love to have him if he can get healthy,” Arians said. “He’s a dynamic player in a lot of phases, not just special teams. Obviously he’s one of the best [special-teams players] ever. But I think he can do some things offensively to help us become more dynamic.”
In 2011, Cribbs had the most production in his career as a wide receiver when he tallied 41 catches for 518 yards and four touchdowns. However, he had only seven catches for 63 yards this past season and often expressed his frustration about not being heavily involved in ex-Browns coach Pat Shurmur’s offense.
Arians thinks Cribbs, 29, could have untapped potential as a receiver.
“That’s the part I’d like to get my hands on to find out about, get him out on the grass and see what his positives and his negatives are as a receiver,” said Arians, a former offensive coordinator of the Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers and, most recently, the Indianapolis Colts. “I know once he gets his hands on the football how dynamic he can be.
“His resume speaks for itself. He’s got a lot of house calls. Against me, I can remember one in Pittsburgh the ball was lying down in the corner and we had him just pinned in, and the next thing I know he’s running by me on the sideline for a touchdown.
“He’s physical. He breaks tackles, plays the game relentlessly, the way it’s supposed to be played, and those are the type of guys we’ve been adding to our roster. He fits that mold if we can get his health back.”
Arians said he’s “not a Wildcat guy,” so he wouldn’t use Cribbs out of that formation the way the Browns have in the past. However, he is curious about Cribbs’ ability to play tailback.
“He’s such a big, physical guy,” Arians said. “Whether he could play in the backfield, I’d have to find out. I’d like to get my hands on him and find out about a couple things he can do as a receiver and a back.”
Blast from past
Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera conceded he was worried new Browns coach Rob Chudzinski would lure quarterback Derek Anderson back to Cleveland.
Anderson had the best season of his NFL career and made the Pro Bowl in 2007, when Chudzinski served as the Browns’ offensive coordinator. And Anderson spent the past two seasons serving as Cam Newton’s backup while Chudzinski coordinated the Panthers’ offense.
With the Browns in the market for a quarterback to compete with incumbent starter Brandon Weeden, Rivera naturally thought Anderson could return to Cleveland.
“Yeah, I was [worried],” Rivera said. “But fortunate for us, we were able to keep him, and he’s been a very good part for us in terms of our team. [He has had a] leadership role for us and a mentoring role as well dealing with Cam and Jimmy Clausen for that matter.”
Rivera said Anderson has changed since he lashed out at Browns fans through the media on his way out of Cleveland.
“He’s matured,” Rivera said. “He really has, and I know you guys caught him when he was a young guy and a little bit of a gunslinger. He had some success in his career, but I know he also departed not under the best of situations. But I will say I think if there’s one thing you can say about Derek is Derek has matured.”
Free-agent cornerback Brent Grimes visited the Browns this past Saturday. But he also visited the Miami Dolphins, and the Atlanta Falcons would like to re-sign him.
“You always want to try to put together the best roster you possibly can, and he’s been a guy that’s been an integral part of the success we’ve had over the last four or five years,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “[He’s] very athletic, played the ball well in the air, and [is] one of the better athletes on our football team.”
Grimes received the Falcons’ franchise tag last season before suffering a torn Achilles’ tendon in Week 1 and missing the rest of the season. Browns CEO Joe Banner said Grimes isn’t 100 percent healthy yet, but the team is optimistic about medical tests it conducted on him.
“I’m not going to speak about his health,” Smith said. “He had the Achilles injury the first game of the season which has been well-documented. He’s been working extremely hard to get back.”
Nickel cornerback Captain Munnerlyn announced on Instagram that he will return to the Carolina Panthers. Munnerlyn was on the Browns’ radar.
San Francisco connections
The Browns and San Francisco 49ers have two new connections. Not only have the 49ers signed kicker Phil Dawson to a one-year deal reportedly worth $2.25 million, but they also have hired Mick Lombardi, son of Browns General Manager Mike Lombardi, as assistant to coach Jim Harbaugh.
Mick Lombardi was a scouting assistant for the New England Patriots, but he’ll have some coaching responsibilities as part of his new role with the 49ers, Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh and the elder Lombardi spent time together while working for the Oakland Raiders.
“I think he’ll do a great job,” Harbaugh said of Mike Lombardi. “I know he’ll do a great job. It’s been fun hanging out with him here [at the owners meeting]. I really miss our days when I’d see him every day in the office. He’s a great football guy, and he’ll do a great job. Now we’ve got to draft against him. Now we’ve got to play against him. That’s not the fun part.”
Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said the organization has been talking to agent Drew Rosenhaus about re-signing tight end Fred Davis, a reported free-agent target of the Browns. “I’m sure what Fred’s doing is looking at all his options,” Shanahan said. “His agent is looking at all his options. They know where we stand and we’re dealing with a cap situation that’s a little tough right now.” … Browns running back Trent Richardson and Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome lost their first-round matchups in the new-school and old-school brackets of the Madden NFL video game cover vote. … Browns linebacker Craig Robertson earned $236,962 in the NFL’s “Performance-Based Pay” program, which compensates players for playing time based on their salary levels.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com.