BEREA — When Eric Wright chose Detroit over Cleveland, the Browns entered the market for a No. 3 cornerback. They filled the need with Dimitri Patterson, who signed Wednesday and practiced for the first time Thursday.
It’s safe to say Patterson had a better year than Wright in 2010.
Not only did he get his first NFL start after five years, Patterson started 10 games for the Philadelphia Eagles, including a playoff loss to Green Bay. He set career highs with 62 tackles and four interceptions.
Wright was burned repeatedly for touchdowns and ended the season injured.
“It was a good opportunity, it was a good experience in a competitive conference and I gained some great experience doing that,” said Patterson, 5-foot-10, 200 pounds. “Now I feel more confident, more comfortable and it was a good situation for me.”
He thought he further proved himself against the Packers and their potent passing attack in the playoff pressure-cooker.
“It was a good situation for me to come in that Philly scheme, that man-to-man scheme, and show I can go and play against top-tier talent,” Patterson, 28, said. “I was able to go and show I can cover some of the best receivers. I can do it all four quarters.”
Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron coached Eagles defensive backs last year. Veteran cornerback Sheldon Brown was Patterson’s teammate in Philadelphia in 2009.
“It’s good to come somewhere new but you’re comfortable,” Patterson said. “Because in this league you’ve got to hit the ground running, so that allows me to do that.”
Patterson will begin as the nickelback covering the slot receiver. He said he’s just as comfortable on the outside, and would be the first choice to fill in as a starter if Brown or Joe Haden were injured. The addition of Patterson enables the Browns to ease fifth-round pick Buster Skrine into the rotation.
“I’m glad he’s here. He’s a very competitive guy,” coach Pat Shurmur said of Patterson. “We feel like he’s a guy that can come in and compete and play either inside or outside.”
Richmond McGee was in his Austin, Texas, office buying and selling stock Tuesday morning when he got the call that the Browns wanted him in for a tryout Wednesday. He hopped on a plane, beat out four other punters and signed.
McGee has been to an NFL camp the past three years and is hoping this time he makes it to the regular season.
“Just excited to have this shot, this shot I’ve been waiting for for three years now,” he said.
The punter job came open when Reggie Hodges tore his Achilles’ tendon Tuesday. The permanent job isn’t promised to McGee, but he gets the first crack.
“He’ll have a chance now to go out and perform in the preseason games, and we’ll make an evaluation of his performance,” Shurmur said. “If there is somebody available that we’re interested in, then we’ll have to make a comparison. But he’s got a chance to make this team, a better chance than most ’cause he’s here.”
McGee is a “wealth manager” for a big firm in Austin, where he went to the University of Texas. He has known Browns kicker Phil Dawson for years and worked out with him over the summer. McGee was in camp with Philadelphia in 2008 when Browns general manager Tom Heckert was with the Eagles, and spent the last two camps in Chicago with new Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor.
“It just seems like all the cards are aligning and a lot of familiar faces around here for me,” McGee said. “Just seems like a really good fit and a great opportunity for me.
“There’s 32 jobs available so the best 32 guys are going to have those jobs. So my job here is to make sure I’m one of those best 32, and I’m super-motivated to do that.”
He struggled in his first chance to punt at the end of practice. In a drill designed to down the ball inside the 10-yard line, he kicked only two of six past the 10.
CATCHES AND DROPS
Rookie receiver Greg Little, a second-round pick, seemed like he was involved in every other play during practice. The Browns did red zone drills, and the coaches wanted to see how Little (6-2, 220 pounds) reacted.
They got a mixed bag. Little caught a few balls for touchdowns, including a post from Colt McCoy with Sheldon Brown in coverage. But he also had a few drops and couldn’t make a couple of plays that would’ve been difficult catches.
“He had a lot of opportunities and he showed up,” Shurmur said. “He made a few nice plays. He had a couple other opportunities where he didn’t get it done. Again, he’ll learn from that.
“It’s early in the process. He’s getting a feel for his body. He ran a lot of routes today. He hung in there and I think this was a really good day for him. We feel like he’s got a chance to be a player so we’re going to put him in a position to make plays.”
The night ended on a sour note as a sideline throw went through Little’s hands and was intercepted by defensive back Darian Hagan.
Rookie tight end Jordan Cameron (hamstring), receiver Jordan Norwood (hip flexor) and rookie offensive lineman Jason Pinkston (shoulder) joined the injured list. Norwood’s injury happened during practice.
** Running back Montario Hardesty (knee surgery last season) and receiver Joshua Cribbs (knee) didn’t practice but worked out on the side with a coach. Hardesty has been severely limited the last several days.
“The same plan for him,” Shurmur said. “We’ll just get him out there when he’s ready to go.”
** Left guard Eric Steinbach (knee), tight end Benjamin Watson (concussion) and receiver Carlton Mitchell (shoulder) returned to practice.
** Receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (leg) is still in a cast.
When the free agents were allowed to join practice, defensive end Jayme Mitchell and safety Usama Young immediately took spots with the first team. Brandon Jackson got time at running back and as the upback on kickoff returns.
** Rookie Chris Matthews, a 6-5, 218-pound undrafted free agent, made a leaping catch over the 5-9 Skrine in the corner of the end zone.
** Skrine dropped a short kickoff.
** Carlton Mitchell couldn’t get his feet down inbounds on a fade.
** Former Browns coach has been hired by ESPN as an NFL analyst.
** Abram Elam, who started for the Browns at safety the last two years, signed with Dallas, where he will be reunited with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
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