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The NFL Column – Are the Browns Just Going to Roll Over?

The Cleveland Browns did a couple of things this week that have drawn the ire of their fans. One of them was to take perhaps the best offensive player they had, running back Trent Richardson, and trade him to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick in next year’s draft. The other was to pass over second-string quarterback Jason Campbell in favor of Brian Hoyer when it came to filling in for injured Brandon Weeden, who’s got a thumb injury that will keep him out of action for at least one week.

Maybe we shouldn’t say that someone would be “filling in” for Weeden, since no one knows whether the Oklahoma State grad, who came into the league last year as a 28-year-old rookie, will even make his way into the starting lineup. It seems that the long-term plans of the Browns are starting to take shape. And this includes bringing in their own people. General manager Mike Lombardi and head coach Rob Chudzinski are set to gradually turn over this roster, and their goal for next season is to secure a franchise quarterback, and the best way for them to do that is through the draft.

In effect, the Browns, who are 6.5-point underdogs in NFL betting this week against the Minnesota Vikings, at least according to the lines that are posted at GTBets, are throwing up the white flag for the 2013 season. What they are looking to do is have a pick to acquire a quarterback, or accumulate a package of picks, that can be traded for a very high draft choice, to get whoever is the best signal-caller coming out of school. Whether that is Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville or somebody else is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps that is part of the move to Hoyer. Campbell could direct the Browns to some victories. Hoyer’s presence could put Cleveland in the running for the #1 overall selection, which, together with the Colts’ pick and the other picks they have, would get them off to a pretty good re-start.

They’d probably deny it, but they have given up on Weeden, who was sacked six time and intercepted three times by Miami in the opening game. Remember that he was a selection of the Tom Heckert regime, and Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner have come in with a new scheme that seeks to get the ball down the field. They’ll look for somebody who can do that. Willis McGahee, who is on the downside of his career but could still be useful, has been signed to become Cleveland’s principal running back.

Meanwhile, the Colts, who are ten-point underdogs at GTBets to the San Francisco 49ers, say they are going to make a lot of use of Richardson, so it’s likely he’ll share carries with Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Brown, as Vick Ballard is down for the season with an injury.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got good news when it was discovered that safety Dashon Goldson, one of the big acquisitions they made for their secondary in the off-season, has won his appeal of a one-game suspension for a head-to-head hit and will be available to play against the New England Patriots on Sunday, where the Pats are a seven-point favorite in the NFL odds.

Ed Reed is calling it “just another away game,” but he’s got to be excited about his return to Baltimore, this time as a member of the Houston Texans. It’s also his first action of the 2013 campaign. Reed, who signed with Houston in the off-season, has been recovering from hip surgery.

Reggie Bush has a knee injury, but he is very hopeful of being able to suit up and play on Sunday as the Detroit Lions visit the Washington Redskins. Rush is a guy who is badly needed, because he serves to take some pressure off Matthew Stafford, who otherwise looks for Calvin Johnson down the field. This is a Redskin defense that is greatly challenged, as it allows 5.5 yards per rush attempt and 73% completions through the air. The NFL odds have it a pick’em at GTBets.

One thing about Peyton Manning (9 TD’s, no interceptions) is that he needs to have his blind side protected. And he has had one of the best in the business in the very underrated Ryan Clady. But those plans have to change now after Clady suffered what is called a Lisfranc joint tear to his left foot and was placed on injured reserve, which requires him to miss the rest of the season. The Broncos have Chris Clark ready to step in, but with offensive linemen, there is always going to be a severe dropoff, especially when you are talking about a premier left tackle. It’s quite possible that the Broncos won’t need Clady to cover the 15 points they are laying in the NFL betting lines to the Oakland Raiders on Monday night, but the effect could be felt as the season progresses. They are lucky, however, that with Clark, a four-year veteran, and Winston Justice, who’s been in the league for seven years, they don’t have to rely on rookies to pick up the slack.

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