December 18, 2014

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Browns Notes: QB Rex Grossman finally signs; Tyler Thigpen waived

Rex Grossman, left, talks with Cleveland Browns quarterbacks Connor Shaw, Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer during practice Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Rex Grossman, left, talks with Cleveland Browns quarterbacks Connor Shaw, Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer during practice Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

BEREA — The Rex Grossman-to-Cleveland rumors started shortly after Kyle Shanahan was hired as offensive coordinator in February.

The rumors became reality Tuesday morning when Grossman signed. He became the No. 3 quarterback, and journeyman Tyler Thigpen was waived.

“I don’t know why it took so long,” said Grossman, an unrestricted free agent. “Better late than never, and I’m thrilled that I’m here.”

Grossman (6-foot-1, 225 pounds) is in his 12th season. He was the No. 22 pick of the Bears in 2003, spent six years there and led them to a Super Bowl.

He spent the next five seasons with Shanahan — one in Houston and the past four in Washington. He is an expert in Shanahan’s system.

“Everybody has very similar play concepts, but it’s the details of his offense that are unbelievable, just how everything goes together really well and makes sense,” Grossman said after watching practice in shorts. “And when he gets in a rhythm calling plays, it’s the best I’ve ever seen.”

Grossman, who will turn 34 later this month, hasn’t played since 2011, when he started 13 games. He was 5-8 and completed 58 percent with 16 touchdowns, 20 interceptions and a 72.4 rating.

He was hoping to sign with a team where he could compete for playing time, but wasn’t offered the chance. He’s been working out with his wife in South Florida, and said the deal to join the Browns was struck Monday while he worked out for the Dolphins.

“I just want to help this team win, no matter if it’s going out there playing or helping or just being somebody they can rely on that can go in the game and play,” he said.

Coach Mike Pettine said Grossman wasn’t brought in simply to be Johnny Manziel’s mentor.

“I think he’ll help the whole room, not just Johnny,” Pettine said. “I think he’ll help that whole room just as far as the stuff that he’s gone through with a lot of the plays. He knows the system as well as he does, and he’ll be able to give them a quarterback’s perspective instead of just the coaches’ perspective.”

Grossman has appeared in 54 games and is 25-22 as a starter. He has completed 55 percent for 10,232 yards with 56 touchdowns and 60 interceptions.

Thigpen was given the first chance to stick but struggled throughout camp and was 3-for-12 for 38 yards with a game-sealing interception and 5.6 rating Saturday in the preseason loss to Detroit.

Pettine wouldn’t discuss the specifics of why it took so long for Grossman to come aboard.

“There are a lot of factors involved,” he said. “We wanted to give Tyler an opportunity. We did and we felt it was time to go ahead and take a look at Rex.”

Pettine said it’s too early to say if the Browns will keep three quarterbacks on the regular-season roster. Undrafted rookie Connor Shaw is the fourth one in camp but has struggled.

“You have options,” Pettine said. “Do you keep your third quarterback on the practice squad, or is he a guy that’s schooled up and then he’s on the street or do you keep him on the 53?”

Pettine was asked if Grossman makes Brian Hoyer expendable.

“No. Absolutely not,” he said.

But he did note a difference in their experience.

“Brian is in a unique situation,” Pettine said. “He does have years in the league, but it’s hard to put that veteran label on him because he doesn’t have that many career starts.

“In some aspects, he is a veteran because he’s been around for so long in the league, but he’s closer to being a rookie just as far as the number of snaps he’s taken in live game situations.”

VISORS FOR DUMMIES

Quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains created quite a stir in May when he revealed draft room secrets during an interview with an Arkansas radio station.

“We’re sitting there and they keep showing Johnny on TV and Johnny and I are texting and he shoots me a text and he says: ‘I wish you guys would come get me. Hurry up and draft me because I want to be there. I want to wreck this league together,’” Loggains told ESPN Radio. “When I got that text, I forwarded it to the owner and to the head coach. I’m like, ‘This guy wants to be here. He wants to be part of it.’

“As soon as that happened, Mr. (Jimmy) Haslam said, ‘All right, pull the trigger. We’re trading up to go get this guy.’”

Loggains got into trouble with the bosses because the Browns didn’t want people to think Haslam meddled and ordered the pick. He hadn’t spoken publicly until Tuesday.

“He paid his penance for that,” Pettine said. “We made him wear a visor that said, ‘I’m a dummy,’ for a day during the spring at the walkthrough.

“He learned a valuable lesson. Everything is going to get out.”

Pettine said the visor hangs in Loggains’ office.

“Coach Pett has a unique sense of humor,” Loggains said. “I’m trying to get rid of it. I’m waiting for someone else to say something, so I can pass it on to the next guy.”

FAVORITE FILM

Right guard John Greco became a hero among his teammates – several tweeted a video link — for a huge block on Detroit’s Darryl Tapp on Saturday. As Hoyer rolled right, Greco knocked Tapp off his feet with a hit from the side.

It probably should’ve drawn a flag because Greco appeared to hit Tapp facemask to facemask.

“If he’s a defenseless player, you can’t strike him with your head,” Greco said.

A flag was thrown, but Greco said another official overruled the penalty because he thought Greco had avoided head-to-head contact.

“It’s a good rule to enforce,” Greco said. “We have to keep a lookout for our players. I was trying to get my shoulder across and I thought I did a good job of doing that.”

Greco said the play’s gotten a lot of screen time in the film room.

“I think everyone’s sick of seeing it now,” he said. “But to me, it never gets old. It’s just one of those things where right place at right time, just trying to keep someone off the quarterback.”

BACK IN BUSINESS

Rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert returned to practice in a limited role after injuring his groin Wednesday and missing the preseason opener. Pettine expects him to be full go today and play against Washington on Monday.

“He needs to play,” Pettine said. “There’s no substitute for live game repetitions. Until you can get out there and kind of see how guys react, you’re never going to know.”

Gilbert said it was hard to sit Saturday but he learned from watching.

“It gave me a good feel being on the sideline, seeing the guys I’ve been practicing with finally get into action live,” he said.

  • Left tackle Joe Thomas returned after a day of rest.
  • Defensive lineman Calvin Barnett returned. No reason was given for his absence.
  • Free safety Tashaun Gipson (knee) was back in team drills.
  • Tight end Jordan Cameron (shoulder) participated in non-contact drills for the second straight day.

EXTRA POINTS

  • Receiver Josh Gordon (abdominal), defensive end Desmond Bryant (wrist), receiver Nate Burleson (hamstring), defensive end Billy Winn (abdomen) and inside linebacker Darius Eubanks shoulder didn’t practice and worked with trainers. Outside linebackers Eric Martin (concussion) and Keith Pough (ankle) weren’t on the field. Pettine said Bryant’s injury is minor, and he hopes Burleson will return later this week.
  • Undrafted rookie Ray Agnew became the No. 1 fullback on the newly released depth chart. MarQueis Gray was moved to fourth-string tight end, but Pettine said he’ll continue to get time at fullback. Gray (abdomen) was limited after missing Monday.
  • A guy in a head-to-toe, one-piece, orange Spandex outfit stood on the street corner by the team facility holding a “Honk for Hoyer” sign.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.

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