September 20, 2014

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Browns: Cribbs is more than just a return man

 

BEREA — Joshua Cribbs didn’t displace Tim Carter as the No. 3 receiver, but he’s still expected to be a key contributor on offense.
Cribbs had a strong preseason in his third year with the team. He turned a short pass from Brady Quinn into a
20-yard touchdown vs. the Broncos with a quick move up the sideline after breaking a tackle. He finished with three catches for 47 yards and a pair of rushes for 17 yards.
Quarterback Charlie Frye said Cribbs will excel under first-year coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
“He takes advantage of Josh’s talents,” Frye said. “You don’t need to throw Josh a 50-yard pass to get 50 yards. You can dump him the ball on a 5-yard pass, 10-yard pass and let him do the rest of the work.”
Cribbs gets that explosion from his work on special teams. He’s been the kickoff returner since his rookie year and added punt-return duties in the preseason, securing the job with a 70-yard touchdown vs. the Bears in the finale.
“Josh has been doing that since he got here,” Frye said. “He’s like Dante Hall was for Kansas City. Kinda like the X-factor.
“That’s the player Josh has grown to be. We always count on him for good field position.”
Hall has 20 career touchdowns, including 11 on returns. But the 5-foot-8 Hall has success with shiftiness, while Cribbs (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) relies on a combination of power, speed and agility. Those skills carry over to his limited time at receiver, when he can turn an end-around or a quick hitch into a big gain.
“I like getting the ball quick and having people in front of me,” he said. “It’s different going downfield and catching the ball and somebody’s right on you. Give me the ball as quick as you can. Let me get the yac (yards after catch). I’m more of a yac receiver than a possession receiver.”
Cribbs also brings the element of surprise. He was a successful quarterback at Kent State, so anytime he’s on the field the defense has to look out for an option pass. This could be the year he gets to throw that first NFL pass.
“This is an exciting offense,” Cribbs said. “We’re pulling out all the stops. We’re going into the playbook and (Chudzinski’s) not holding anything back.”

Snapped up

The Browns signed long snapper Ryan Pontbriand to a four-year contract extension Tuesday that runs through 2011.
Pontbriand was a surprise fifth-round choice of former coach Butch Davis in 2003. He has played 59 games, establishing himself as one of the best long snappers in the league and a fixture of the Browns’ special teams.
Pontbriand joins other key members of the special teams signed to long-term deals. Punter Dave Zastudil (2010), kicker Phil Dawson (2010) and Cribbs (2012) are locked up for the next few years.

Notes

WKYC-TV Channel 3 reported Monday night that Zastudil was injured during practice and could miss the opener Sunday vs. the Steelers. A Browns spokesman Tuesday said coach Romeo Crennel will provide an injury update today, but no roster moves had been made or were anticipated.
Zastudil had a good preseason, averaging 43.5 yards on 17 punts. He landed seven inside the 20-yard line.
The depth chart was released Tuesday and Derek Anderson was listed as the second quarterback, with rookie Brady Quinn third. However, Crennel said he’d wait until Sunday morning to announce the backup for the game.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.