December 18, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
29°F
 

Browns: Rex Grossman among latest cuts

BEREA — Browns general manager Ray Farmer continued to work through the holiday weekend, making eight transactions Sunday that altered the bottom of the 53-man roster.

Cleveland released veteran quarterback Rex Grossman, wide receiver Charles Johnson, tackle Martin Wallace and guard Karim Barton.

All four survived the so-called final cuts a day earlier, only to be sent packing in favor of a quartet of players claimed off waivers.

Wide receiver LaRon Byrd (Dallas), running back Glenn Winston (San Francisco), guard Caylin Hauptmann (Seattle) and tackle Ryan Seymour (San Francisco) became the newest Browns, but coach Mike Pettine cautioned that Farmer wasn’t done reshaping the roster.

“I wouldn’t read too much into those moves,” Pettine said. “The roster situation is very fluid right now. There are some guys who aren’t here that might come back, and there are some guys who are here who won’t be here.

“I’m relatively sure that everything should be settled by the time we take the practice field on Wednesday.”

For the moment, Cleveland is carrying only two quarterbacks — starter Brian Hoyer and backup Johnny Manziel — as it prepares to open the regular season in Pittsburgh on Sept. 7.

Since neither has more than cursory NFL experience, it isn’t an ideal situation.

Pettine strongly hinted that 12th-year pro Grossman, who has spent significant time with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, could return once Farmer is done tweaking the numbers at other positions.

“I can’t rule anything out,” the coach said. “But I think you guys will have a better sense of what we’re doing by the end of the week.”

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Byrd brings much-needed size to the receiving corps. He spent the last two years with Arizona, but was cut by Dallas after making seven receptions for 103 yards in the preseason.

Longtime Cowboys standout Miles Austin, who stands 6-2, is the only other wide receiver with any height on the roster. Andrew Hawkins and Travis Benjamin could charitably be called tiny, along with undrafted rookie Taylor Gabriel.

“Byrd and Austin are obviously the two bigger guys, but I think our system helps a little bit with condensed formations and putting on as much pre-snap movement as we do,” Pettine said. “That takes the bull’s-eyes off them a little bit, so it’s not a major concern for us.”

While Byrd was a nice pickup from a football perspective, adding Winston was a controversial one. The 6-2, 220-pounder led the 49ers with 113 rushing yards in the preseason after going undrafted out of Northwood (Mich.) University because of his checkered past.

Winston wound up at Northwood after being kicked off the team at Michigan State for two major altercations, including an assault charge in which he was sentenced to 180 days in the Ingham County Jail.

That incident didn’t get Winston booted off the Spartans, but an on-campus brawl following their annual football banquet did. The Michigan native also was placed in a substance-abuse program by the court.

“It’s not like we’re just taking a guy blind, we make sure that we research it,” Pettine said. “Personnel departments are very much in communication with each other as far as those types of things.

“I’m just curious to get him here and see how he fits in. He’s a big back who can run downhill.”

The 6-3, 300-pound Hauptmann was on Cleveland’s practice squad the first two weeks last season before being signed by Seattle, while the 6-4, 305-pound Seymour split his 2013 rookie year between Seattle’s practice squad and San Francisco.

The Browns also began assembling their 10-man practice squad by signing five players that were on its training camp roster.

Rookie quarterback Connor Shaw, rookie nose tackle Jacobbi McDaniel, linebacker Keith Pough, rookie tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi and linebacker Justin Staples agreed to stay in Cleveland, while guard James Brown joined the franchise after spending the preseason with Chicago.

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.

NEXT UP

WHO: Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh
WHAT: Season opener
WHEN: Sunday, 1 p.m.
WHERE: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
TV/RADIO: Channel 19; WKNR 850-AM, WKRK 92.3-FM, WNCX 98.5-FM