BEREA — Phil Savage isn’t bouncing around chat rooms or calling into talk radio. He’s not standing around the water cooler or bellying up to the bar.
While coach Romeo Crennel’s job security is a hot topic wherever Browns fans congregate, the general manager insisted Saturday it’s not an issue where it matters most.
“There is no Romeo Crennel watch in this building, on 76 Lou Groza Blvd., in Berea, Ohio,” Savage said.
Savage met with the media to discuss the final roster cuts in a state-of-the-team address. In his opening monologue, he was quick to throw cold water on the notion that Crennel enters the season on the hot seat.
“I’ve said it 10 times: He’s the right man for the job,” Savage said. “There’s nobody else out there that could’ve won more than eight-to-12 games over the last two years with the roster we had and the circumstances and situations we’ve been through. Motorcycle accidents, injuries, all sorts of things.
“To expect anything different than that is unrealistic.”
Crennel went 6-10 his first year in 2005, then slipped to 4-12 last year. National experts and Las Vegas betting lines list Crennel as one of the coaches most likely to be fired. Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher and current Titans coach Jeff Fisher have already been mentioned as possible successors.
Savage said that’s not going to happen.
“Romeo coaches this team every day,” Savage said. “He can coach offense, he coaches defense, he can coach special teams. I think our players like him, I think they respect him and I think they’re going to play hard for him.
“There is no hot seat. If we get beat 50-0 in the first six games, that’s a different story. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Savage and Crennel joined the Browns after the 2004 season. They took over a team that had gone 4-12 and was in disarray.
Savage will be the first to tell you how much disarray.
“It’s been an overhaul, it’s been a journey to get here,” he said. “We feel good about the final 53.”
The Browns made 22 roster moves to get down to the 53-man regular-season limit. Veteran quarterback Ken Dorsey didn’t make the cut, along with running back Chris Barclay. Also waived were five picks from the last two drafts: defensive linemen Melila Purcell and Chase Pittman and receiver Syndric Steptoe from 2007, and cornerback DeMario Minter and nose tackle Babatunde Oshinowo from 2006.
Cornerback Gary Baxter made the roster and gets to continue his attempt to make history by returning from a pair of torn patellar tendons. He returned to practice in a limited capacity July 30 but didn’t participate in contact drills or play in a preseason game.
“We felt like he’s within a few weeks of a return to play,” Savage said. “With everything he’d been through, the effort and work he had put into it, he deserved a shot to see where he is over the next few weeks.
“Is it at corner, is it at safety? It’s as a football player. We think Gary’s going to show enough progress in the next few weeks that he could be a viable part of the roster and help us.”
Dorsey wasn’t as fortunate, losing out to Derek Anderson as the third quarterback kept. Dorsey was a valuable mentor to rookie Brady Quinn during the preseason.
“We felt like we kept the three that give us the best chance to win right now,” Savage said. “We have a lot of respect for Ken Dorsey. But from a physical standpoint, in two years no one had said we need to put Ken Dorsey in to win the game.
“Derek has a level of upside we’re intrigued by. We’re going to continue working with D.A.”
Savage said the starting quarterback choice belongs to Crennel, but it looks like Charlie Frye will be the guy. The timetable for Quinn to enter the lineup is unclear.
“Is it two weeks, is it four weeks, is it eight weeks, is it at the end of the year?” Savage said. “I can’t answer that.”
Right tackle Ryan Tucker’s steroids suspension began Saturday at 4 p.m. He’s not permitted in team headquarters or at practice for four weeks.
(bullet) Savage said linebacker Willie McGinest (back surgery) is doing well in his rehab but will be out at least a few more weeks.
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• CB Gary Baxter made the 53-man roster as he continues to come back from two torn patellar tendons. He won’t play the first couple of weeks.
• QB Ken Dorsey was waived. Derek Anderson was kept.
• The Browns kept four rookie draft picks: T Joe Thomas, QB Brady Quinn, CB Eric Wright, CB Brandon McDonald.
• FB Charles Ali, a rookie free agent from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, made the team.
• Nine players on the active roster, not including T Ryan Tucker (suspended) and LB Mason Unck (IR), remain from the 2004 season.
• TE Darnell Dinkins, RB Jerome Harrison and LB Kris Griffin won battles for backup spots. Ryan Krause, Chris Barclay and Clifton Smith lost.
• Only three safeties were kept — Sean Jones, Brodney Pool, Mike Adams — but CB Jereme Perry saw action there in the preseason finale, and Baxter could see time there, too.
• GM Phil Savage said the Browns will try to re-sign some of the waived players to the practice squad.
WAIVED: RB Chris Barclay, OL Andrew Hoffman, TE Ryan Krause, OL Cliff Louis, WR Maurice Mann, OL Fred Matua, CB DeMario Minter, NT Babatunde Oshinowo, DE Chase Pittman, OL Brent Pousson, DE Melila Purcell, WR Steve Sanders, LB Clifton Smith, OL Rob Smith, WR Syndric Steptoe
TERMINATED-VESTED VETERAN: QB Ken Dorsey
WAIVED-INJURED: S Justin Hamilton, S Jeremy LeSueur, DL J’Vonne Parker, LB Jason Short
INJURED-RESERVE: LB Mason Unck
RESERVE-SUSPENDED: Ryan Tucker