A few takeaways from the Cleveland Browns’ introductory news conferences of associate head coach/offense Pep Hamilton last week:
Hamilton not only did not mention Johnny Manziel until he was asked about him, he also mentioned only two players when asked what playmakers the Browns have on the roster: Travis Benjamin and Gary Barnidge. Hamilton raved about Benjamin's speed and said Barnidge is "a special player." The Browns do have to sign Benjamin to a new contract before free agency begins.
New coach Hue Jackson will commit to the run. "To say that we're gonna be a run-first team is not the appropriate thing to say," Hamilton said. "But we'll work like heck to establish the run game." He called the offensive line "the strength of the offense," and said linemen can be playmakers, as well. The Browns just have to convince Alex Mack not to become a free agent and sign Mitchell Schwartz to a new contract before free agency begins.
Don't look for the Browns to search for a top running back. Both Hamilton and Jackson have said they like Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr., and both seem to feel that the position is in good shape. "I do feel like our backs are very talented," Hamilton said. "They can play without the ball. I think Duke showed that last year. He had 60-plus catches. Isaiah can do anything that we’re going to ask him to do."
This staff seems unsure what to do with Cameron Erving, the second of last year's two first-round picks. Erving was a versatile backup as a rookie, but struggled when injury put him on the field. Asked what position Erving would play, Hamilton said: "I don’t know yet. We’ll see. I think it’s a luxury to have a guy that can play tackle and/or play center.”
The possible return of Josh Gordon from suspension has not been discussed amongst the coaches. Hamilton said that Jackson and the front office may have dealt with that topic, but coaches are working to prepare the offense for the start of the offseason program April 4.