Josh Cribbs

Browns Rumors: Taylor, Njoku, Janis, Cribbs

Throughout the offseason, Hue Jackson has insisted there is no quarterback competition in Cleveland. Even before the Browns’ No. 1 overall pick became known, the third-year head coach said Tyrod Taylor will be his starter. And Jackson wants that to be the case for the duration of this season. As for why the Browns were steadfast with Taylor as their starter despite the team going 0-16 last season: the franchise wants to make this year about winning games rather than developing a rookie quarterback at any cost, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Mayfield’s progressing quickly, in Cabot’s view, and showing the kind of arm talent that had Browns execs and then-consultant Scot McCloughan convinced going into the draft he could turn the franchise around. Another argument could be made that the Browns’ status as a non-contender, talent added this offseason notwithstanding, should prompt them to get Mayfield some reps early this season. Cabot does believe the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner will play this year, but for now, it doesn’t look like the Oklahoma product will be fast-tracked into the lineup like 2017 first-rounders Mitch Trubisky or Deshaun Watson were with their respective teams.

Here’s the latest from northeast Ohio:

  • One of the players Taylor will be targeting has enjoyed a strong offseason. Jackson expects David Njoku to make a major leap in his second season. “I expect to see a huge jump,” Jackson said, via Patrick Maks of ClevelandBrowns.com. “He’s very athletic. He can catch and run. He’s going to be one of our playmakers.” Njoku caught 32 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns last season, despite the Browns having probably the worst quarterback situation in the league. The Browns noticed significant improvement from the Miami alum this offseason, and QBs coach Greg Seamon said the 6-foot-4 pass-catcher should be a “dominant receiver in the red zone.”
  • Though the Browns brought in Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley in this year’s draft, and added Jarvis Landry via trade, there could be a spot for Jeff Janis on the 53-man roster. Cabot notes Janis has some fans in Cleveland’s new-look front office, given that he was a Packers draft pick when Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith were part of Green Bay’s operation, and believes that will help his case. Janis may well be competing against Sashi Brown-era draftees Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis. Cabot notes Higgins has probably had the better offseason of the two. Former first-rounder Corey Coleman is not a lock to be part of this year’s team, either, so Janis — a former seventh-round pick with 17 career catches who is at the same time well known well because of his heroics against the Cardinals in a divisional playoff game — could have an avenue to sneak onto the roster.
  • Josh Cribbs is serving as a Browns intern coach this summer, and Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer reports the former star return man interviewed to be the team’s assistant special teams coach this offseason. That job, however, went to Sam Shade. This will be Shade’s first season as an NFL assistant. However, after the Browns chose Shade over Cribbs, new special teams coordinator Amos Jones was impressed enough with Cribbs to bring him on board as an intern, per Pluto.

North Notes: Cribbs, Vikings, Ravens, Ross

Former ace return man Josh Cribbs has officially retired from the NFL, the Browns announced today. Cribbs, 33, hasn’t played since the 2014 campaign, but was a force when he was on the field. In eight seasons with Cleveland, Cribbs earned two All Pro and three Pro Bowl berths. Along with Leon Washington, Cribbs is the NFL’s all-time leader in kickoff return touchdowns with eight.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Before he signed with the Eagles, the Vikings expressed interest in free agent wide receiver Torrey Smith, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press tweets. Smith ultimately signed with Philadelphia for one year and $5MM on a contract that contains two option years and only $500K guaranteed. The Vikings, meanwhile, haven’t added to their wideout corps this offseason, but they did tender — and then extend — restricted free agent Adam Thielen.
  • The Ravens will conduct a predraft visit with Washington wide receiver John Ross, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Ross, who notably ran a 4.22 40-yard dash at the combine earlier this month, underwent shoulder surgery last week, so Baltimore will presumably check in on the status of his injury. As Hensley notes, the Ravens could use a wideout after losing both Steve Smith (retirement) and Kamar Aiken (free agency).
  • The Vikings announced that new running back Latavius Murray underwent ankle surgery today, an operation the club was aware would be required when they signed Murray to a three-year deal last week. Minnesota fully expects Murray to be available when training camp begins this summer. Murray’s injury was “not a secret” as he took free agent visits, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com.

Jags, Pats, Chiefs Inquired On Josh Cribbs

Speaking to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link), free agent return specialist Josh Cribbs revealed that he has received inquiries from a few teams since hitting the open market, including the Jaguars, Patriots, and Chiefs. According to Fowler, Cribbs is open to the possibility of retiring, but would like to continue his playing career.

Cribbs, who turned 32 earlier this month, was one of the most explosive punt and kick returners in the league in the early stages of his career, tallying 11 total return touchdowns — three on punts and eight more on kicks. After joining the Colts last year, the Kent State product didn’t make an impact on 19 punt returns, averaging just 6.6 yards, but his kick return average was an impressive 32.0 yards per return on 19 attempts.

Despite his success on kick returns, Cribbs became expendable in Indianapolis when the Colts used their first-round pick to select Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, who is expected to handle return duties for the club this year. Indianapolis parted ways with Cribbs on May 1, before the draft had concluded.

AFC Notes: Steelers, Ravens, Chargers

Before drafting Mississippi cornerback Senquez Golson with the 56th overall pick, the Steelers tried to move up and take Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams, tweets Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review. The Steelers were unable to pull it off, however, and Williams ended up going 55th to the AFC North rival Ravens, who traded up to get ahead of Pittsburgh. Not surprisingly, that displeased the Steelers, according to Kaboly.

While the Steelers may not have been happy to see their division rivals land Williams, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) doesn’t think they were going to take the tight end themselves in that spot — according to La Canfora, Pittsburgh was “locked in” on Golson at No. 56.

Here are a few more draft-related leftovers from day two, from around the AFC…

  • Speaking of the Ravens, they’re eyeing some of the draft’s remaining cornerbacks, per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter).
  • The Chargers had discussions with multiple teams about moving down in the second round, but they decided to stay put because they wanted Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. The Bolts took Perryman 48th overall.
  • Broncos general manager John Elway didn’t consider taking a quarterback in the third round, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The Broncos instead used the 92nd overall pick on Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman.
  • Discussing the teams’ day two draft picks, Texans GM Rick Smith said linebacker Benardrick McKinney was the highest-rated player on the club’s board when the second round began, and added that Jaelen Strong‘s injured wrist was medically cleared by the Texans’ staff prior to the draft (Twitter links via Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Josh Cribbs became expendable for the Colts when the team drafted Phillip Dorsett in the first round, and Indianapolis released Cribbs earlier today. According to GM Ryan Grigson, the club wanted to give the veteran returner a chance to find “greener pastures,” tweets Mike Chappell of RTV6.

Colts Release Josh Cribbs

The Colts have released return specialist Josh Cribbs, the team announced today in a press release. Because he’s a 10-year veteran, Cribbs won’t be subjected to waivers, and will immediately be free to sign with another team.

Cribbs, 31, was one of the most explosive punt and kick returners in the league earlier in his career, tallying 11 total return touchdowns — three on punts and eight more on kicks. After joining the Colts last year, the Kent State product didn’t make an impact on 19 punt returns, averaging just 6.6 yards, but his kick return average was an impressive 32.0 yards per return on 19 attempts.

The Colts drafted wide receiver Phillip Dorsett out of Miami last night, and I expect the first-round rookie to take over most – if not all – of the Colts’ return duties.

AFC North Notes: Rice, Bishop, Cribbs, Ravens

Earlier this week, Janay Rice told NBC that she was following a suggested script from the Ravens at her May 23 press conference alongisde Ray Rice. Tonight, the Ravens issued a statement denying the accusation, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. “At no time prior to the May 23 session did we provide talking points, a script or suggested script to Janay or speak with her about the press event. We did not recommend or suggest to Ray or Janay that she apologize in any way,” Ravens senior V.P. of public and community relations Kevin Byrne said in the release. More from the AFC North..

  • The Bengals signed linebacker Chris Carter after auditioning both Carter and fellow linebacker Desmond Bishop, a league source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (via Twitter). Arizona released the veteran on Monday afternoon in anticipation of Matt Shaughnessy‘s return. Bishop’s best years were with the Packers in 2010 and 2011 when he recorded more than 100 tackles in each of those seasons, totaling eight sacks, 10 passes defended, and four forced fumbles in those two combined years.
  • Colts returner Josh Cribbs said it definitely bothered him that the Browns, despite struggling so much on punt returns, would not sign him, tweets Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-journal. “It ate me up,” the veteran said.
  • Ravens cornerback Asa Jackson is hopeful that he’ll be able to return from the IR-DTR in time for Sunday’s tilt against the Dolphins, writes Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “I’ve been working so long to get this foot back right,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, it will be good the rest of the week and I don’t have any setbacks and then it will be up to the coaches at the end of the week. Everything is directed toward Sunday. That’s what I’m working for.

Extra Points: Peterson, Vick, Cribbs, McCown

Ahead of the Buccaneers‘ showdown with the Bears, coach Lovie Smith says that he’s focused on turning things around in Tampa Bay, not on reuniting with his old friends from Chicago, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Still, Smith has fond memories of his time with the Bears and he doesn’t harbor any ill-will towards them. “My memories of my time are in Chicago are all great. I have lifetime friends from Chicago. I don’t have many bad memories on any place I have ever been. We won a lot of games. That is what I remember. And the fans there were awesome when we were winning all those games,” said the coach. More from around the league..

  • Jets quarterback Michael Vick has plenty of football left in him, writes NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling. “I would love to play again, at least get it out of my system for two more years,” Vick said, via NFL Media’s Kimberly Jones. “Because I know I got it in me.”
  • If Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has learned from his mistakes, he’s sure not showing it, writes Christine Brennan of USA Today. If the goal the past week was to get back on the field as soon as possible, blowing off a meeting with the NFL commissioner was not the way to do it, no matter what the players’ union was whispering in his ear, Brennan writes. Peterson’s appeal is set to take place on December 2nd, but it sounds like a longshot to say the least.
  • Josh Cribbs‘ deal with the Colts is a two-year pact, according to Mike Chappell of the Indy Star (on Twitter). The 31-year-old has made a name for himself in the NFL as a kick return specialist.
  • Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune looked back at Josh McCown‘s journey from last year to this year. McCown emerged as a very capable fill-in for the Bears last season when Jay Cutler went down. Over the offseason, he joined up with the Bucs and despite some hiccups, he is coming off of a very solid road win over Washington.

Colts Sign Josh Cribbs, Put Bradshaw On IR

1:55pm: The Colts have officially announced the signing of Cribbs, placing Ahmad Bradshaw on season-ending injured reserve in a corresponding move, tweets Mike Chappell of RTV6. The club also cut linebacker Victor Butler and signed tight end Weslye Saunders, an indication that Dwayne Allen may not be active in Week 12.

10:48am: The Colts are signing former Browns return man Josh Cribbs, a source confirms to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter link), who says the move should become official later today. Zac Jackson of FOX Sports Ohio first reported (via Twitter) that Cribbs was heading to Indianapolis.

Cribbs, 31, was one of the most explosive punt and kick returners in the league earlier in his career, tallying 11 total return touchdowns — three on punts and eight more on kicks. The three-time Pro Bowler played for the Jets for a portion of last season after spending most of his career in Cleveland, and hadn’t been on an NFL roster to this point in 2014.

Given Cribbs’ limited value as an offensive player, the Colts likely intend to use him primarily as a returner. For most of the season, 24-year-old wideout Griff Whalen has returned punts and kicks for the club, and has been passable. Whalen has yet to return a kickoff more than 32 yards or a punt more than 22 yards, however, so installing Cribbs as the new return man should give Indianapolis more big-play potential on special teams.

Workout Notes: Tuesday

We’ll keep track of today’s workouts and visits here..

  • The Colts worked out notable kick returner Josh Cribbs, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Cribbs is the NFL’s all-time co-leader in kickoff returns for touchdowns with eight.
  • The Titans worked out former Packers first round pick Derek Sherrod, Yates tweets. The offensive tackle was cut by the Packers late last month.
  • The Panthers also auditioned Sherrod and Kevin Greene, Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post tweets.
  • Defensive tackle Fred Evans tried out for the Seahawks, according to Howard Balzer of USA Today (on Twitter).
  • The Saints tried out safeties M.D. Jennings and Kenny Phillips, according to Balzer (on Twitter). Jamarca Sanford was signed earlier today, so Jennings and Phillips probably won’t be coming to New Orleans.
  • The Saints also auditioned running backs Andre Brown, Tim Hightower, Mikel LeShoure, and Rutgers alum Brian Leonard, according to Yates (via Mike Triplett on Twitter).
  • The Packers looked at defensive tackle Kenny Horsley, safety Kimario McFadden, and linebacker Chaz Sutton, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com tweets.
  • The Falcons are working out former Utah State center Tyler Larsen today, a league source tells Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post (on Twitter).
  • The Dolphins worked out Jonte Green, Wilson tweets.
  • The Seahawks worked out running backs Johri Fogerson, Stanley Havili, and Karl Williams, Wilson tweets.
  • The Titans worked out tight end Dorin Dickerson today, Wilson tweets. The Titans removed him from the IR with an injury settlement in August.

North Notes: Peterson, Little, Browns

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has officially accepted a no-contest plea, meaning he’ll be placed on probation, will pay a $4K fine, and will be subject to 80 hours of community service. It also means that the legal process for his case has concluded, so the Vikings and the NFL will have to decide on the next step for the embattled running back.

The NFL doesn’t seem to be rushing a decision, with spokesman Greg Aiello telling Pro Football Talk today that the league will review the court documents and can’t speculate on a timetable for a ruling. Still, that decision should come by next week, when the Vikings return from their Week 10 bye. As ESPN’s Ed Werder observes, the NFLPA “expects that the league will punish Peterson as it would any other player determined to be guilty of a misdemeanor,” which suggests the Vikings star could be back on the field sooner rather than later.

As we wait to see how the Peterson situation plays out, let’s check in on a few more items out of the league’s two North divisions….

  • For their part, Peterson’s Vikings teammates sound ready to welcome him back with open arms, as Ben Goessling of ESPN.com details.
  • Wide receiver Greg Little, who was cut by the Browns earlier this year after an up-and-down three years with the team, is looking forward to facing his old team as a member of the Bengals this week, as he tells Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I was coming in to a new coaching staff I was growing towards and they were looking at me to come in and play well,” said the former second-round pick, discussing the end of his time in Cleveland. “I had a great relationship with them and the front office decided to go in another direction. Hopefully I’ll make them pay.”
  • Asked today by reporters about the possibility of re-signing Josh Cribbs as a return man, Browns GM Ray Farmer didn’t express any interest in the idea, suggesting the team didn’t want to cut anyone on the current roster for a player whose value is exclusively linked to kick and punt returns (Twitter link via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer).
  • Maggie Hendricks of USA Today identifies the Bears and Lions as a couple clubs that should have some interest in rookie defensive end Michael Sam, who has been a free agent since being dropped from Dallas’ practice squad.