July 30, 2014

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Combine notes: Browns GM Tom Heckert says WR Brian Robiskie has bright future

Scott Petrak

The Chronicle-Telegram

INDIANAPOLIS – Browns receiver Brian Robiskie had seven catches as a rookie in 2009 and 29 last year. He has three touchdowns and 416 yards in his career.

General manager Tom Heckert wasn’t around when Robiskie was drafted in the second round out of Ohio State, but Heckert gave him a strong vote of confidence Saturday at the NFL scouting combine.

“I think Brian’s got a great future for us, I really do,” Heckert said. “He can catch the football, he’s a bigger guy. I think he fits very, very well in what we’re doing offensively.

“We run a lot of slants and shallow crossing routes and I think he’s very, very good at that. I think he’s going to be good for us.

“He didn’t catch a ton of balls (in 2010), but we saw improvement.”

Robiskie will get a fresh start under coach Pat Shurmur, who brought the West Coast offense to which Heckert referred. Shurmur was asked if he looks for anything different in a receiver in his system.

“Well, guys that can catch and beat bump and run. I think those are the things you’re looking for,” he said. “I’m not trying to make a joke there. I think it’s important that receivers make the routine plays routinely, so guys that have great ball skills and can catch the ball when they’re alone as well as when they’re covered.”

He did say being able to run the slant is important in his offense.

“You’ve got a chance to throw the ball in three steps, get the ball to the receiver quickly and then really have a chance to have a big gain if you can catch and run with it,” he said.

Some of Robiskie’s best catches last season came on slants in tight coverage.

 

SURGERY FOR HEYWARD

Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward won’t work out at the combine after revealing Saturday he had reconstructive elbow surgery Jan. 12 to repair ligaments.

He was hurt in the Sugar Bowl victory when he tried to brace himself on a fall and someone fell on him. It happened in the second quarter, but he finished the game.

Heyward will work out for scouts March 30, but won’t bench press because of the arm.

“I wish I could be competing my butt off right now,” he said. “I’m salivating.”

Some scouts see Heyward (6-foot-5, 280 pounds) as a 3-4 end, but Heckert said he could play tackle for the Browns.

“And I think he’d be good, I really do,” Heckert said.

 

NEWTON ON STAGE

Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton created quite a stir in the media room. His interview was by far the most attended and he opened with a prepared statement – something rarely seen at the combine. He felt the need to explain his comments about hoping to become an icon and entertainer that drew criticism last week.

“I felt it was somewhat misunderstood,” Newton said. “It was partly my mistake in not making myself clear and that was my fault.”

Heckert said the remarks didn’t raise a red flag for him.

“Now with Twitter and everything, everybody’s a star now,” he said. “Cam knows football is the main thing and if the other stuff happens, that’s fine. He knows football is the deal and I think he’s willing to spend the time to do it.”

“Football is my No. 1 priority. I want to make that perfectly clear,” said Newton, who referred to himself in the third person at least twice.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported a team asked Newton during an interview why he didn’t take a knee at the end of the BCS title game as ordered by coaches, instead running a sneak. He reportedly “didn’t have a favorable reaction” and got defensive.

 

WEST COAST EXPLANATION

Shurmur gave his definition of the West Coast offense.

“If there’s 300 people in the room, it may get defined 300 different ways,” he said. “But it’s really what you tell the quarterback. It’s how you train the quarterback from footwork and timing and decision-making. It’s a passing game that’s highly efficient, which really banks on accuracy, so you can get it to the receivers, so they can run with it. There are throws down the field, which are very important.

“And then a little bit of a broader definition is how you practice. When you’re in pads, when you’re not, so as you go through the length of an NFL season, you’re trying to play your best football at the end of the year. So it’s about efficiency. It’s about the quarterback. But any offense obviously starts upfront with the offensive line.”

Shurmur played center at Michigan State.

 

BROWNS QUICK HITS

Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb may be available in a trade and Heckert drafted him in Philadelphia, so he was asked about him in his appearance in front of the national media.

“My opinion on Kevin, and I’ve got to be careful talking about that (because he’s on another team), Kevin’s a very good football player,” Heckert said. “But Colt (McCoy), we think Colt’s a great football player as well.”

** Heckert said veteran cornerback Sheldon Brown isn’t making the switch to safety.

“Not in the near-future, no,” he said. “We really haven’t talked about it. I think that’s something he could do, but right now he’s going to stay at corner.”

Some think Brown is slowing down at age 31, but Heckert called him one of the team’s two “good cornerbacks” on Friday. Joe Haden is the other.

** Shurmur said he liked what he found when he arrived in Cleveland.

“I was impressed with the foundation,” he said. “I was very impressed with how hard the guys played throughout the season. I was very impressed by some of the players that are still there.”

** Teams will be able to communicate with rehabbing players even if there’s a lockout, Heckert said, declining to get into specifics.

** Running back Montario Hardesty, who missed 2010 following knee surgery, has been a regular at Browns headquarters. The rehabilitation is going well, Shurmur said.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.