BEREA: Browns quarterback Colt McCoy couldn’t ask his coaches for advice during the NFL’s lockout, so he sought guidance from a legendary player instead.
McCoy spent a couple of days in the offseason learning the West Coast offense from Brett Favre, McCoy confirmed Monday through a team spokesman. New Browns coach Pat Shurmur has been installing his version of the West Coast system since training camp opened more than two weeks ago.
McCoy reached out to Favre, who learned the intricacies of the West Coast offense from Browns President Mike Holmgren during their days with the Green Bay Packers. McCoy visited Favre’s home in Hattiesburg, Miss.
“Since I couldn’t get coached, it was a great opportunity to pick the brain of a guy who’s played in the system for 20 years,” McCoy said through the spokesman. “It was a chance for me to get a lot of questions answered. We worked on footwork, progressions, reads and things like that. It was definitely a positive trip.”
NFL Network’s Steve Mariucci first reported Favre’s tutoring of McCoy during a broadcast last weekend. McCoy was not made available for interviews Monday, but he’s expected to meet with reporters today.
Veteran offensive lineman Billy Yates has retired. The Browns placed him on the reserve/retired list Monday night, meaning he no longer counts toward the 90-man roster limit.
The 31-year-old Yates was listed as the backup center on the team’s depth chart. He recently re-signed with the Browns and was to make a base salary of $810,000 this year.
On Monday morning, Yates told Shurmur and General Manager Tom Heckert he was contemplating retirement. He did not practice Monday.
“It surprised me a little bit,” Shurmur said. “I like Billy. Billy’s been doing a good job for us. From that standpoint, it does [surprise me]. We all have to do what we have to do.”
Last season, the 6-foot-2, 305-pound Yates started three games at right guard for the Browns before suffering a season-ending biceps injury. The Browns went 2-1 with him as a starter.
Yates started 14 of the 41 regular-season games in which he appeared during his eight seasons in the NFL. He played for the Miami Dolphins, the New England Patriots and the Browns.
The Browns were awarded safety Brett Johnson off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson practiced with the Browns on Monday.
“When the phone rang, I was happy the Browns picked me up,” Johnson said. “Now I know I’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Last year, Johnson entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Buffalo Bills. He also spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles and the St. Louis Rams before eventually being signed to the Bills’ practice squad on Dec. 22.
The Browns acquired Johnson, who played at the University of California, because rookie Eric Hagg had knee surgery on Monday. Hagg, a seventh-round pick (248th overall) in this year’s draft, was listed as the backup strong safety before he was hurt.
Starting strong safety T.J. Ward missed practice Monday because of a tooth problem that required treatment from a dentist, Shurmur said.
“If you didn’t know any better, you’d think he got punched in the chin,” Shurmur said.
Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi continued to sit out with an injured bone in his left foot, but he appeared on the practice field without either a cast or a walking boot for the first time since camp started.
Tight end Benjamin Watson (hamstring) and linebacker Scott Fujita (thigh) were held out of practice for precautionary reasons, Shurmur said. Linebacker Chris Gocong (stinger), free safety Usama Young (hamstring), cornerback Coye Francies (lower back), defensive tackle Travis Ivey (unspecified) and Jabari Fletcher (knee) also were sidelined.
Defensive tackle Brian Schaefering left practice after his right foot was stepped on.
Shurmur also offered an update on wide receiver Carlton Mitchell, who had surgery Friday after catching one of his fingers in a jersey last week during practice. Mitchell suffered a broken finger and had screws inserted to repair it, Shurmur said.
The Browns closed Monday’s practice to the public because they thought bad weather would force them indoors. As it turned out, the rain held off, and the team ended up practicing outside. “I’d like to apologize to the fans,” Shurmur said. … With Ward and Young sidelined, Ray Ventrone and Mike Adams played strong safety and free safety, respectively, for the first-team defense. Meanwhile, undrafted rookie Brian Smith was the first-string strongside linebacker in place of Fujita, and Kaluka Maiava continued to play weakside linebacker for the first unit with Gocong out.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://browns.ohio.com. Follow the Browns on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ABJ_Browns and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/browns.abj.