Yardbarker asks Josh Cribbs a few questions [video]

YB asked us to submit a few questions for the athletes/celebrities at the Super Bowl, and Alana G picked a couple to ask at the 4:58 mark.

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Josh Cribbs chats with The Scores Report

CLEVELAND - DECEMBER 30:  Josh Cribbs #16 of the Cleveland Browns positions himself at the line of scrimmage during the game against the San Francisco 49ers on December 30, 2007 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo By Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The first word that comes to mind when you think about Josh Cribbs’ game is “versatile.”

While at Kent State, he set school records for total offense (10,839 yards), rushing touchdowns (38), pass completions (616), pass attempts (1,123), passing yardage (7,169), touchdowns scored (41) and points scored (246) – all records that still stand today.

Now a member of the Cleveland Browns, Cribbs continues to flash the versatility that made him a star at Kent. Arguably the Browns’ most explosive playmaker, Josh is a threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball as either a returner, a receiver or a runner out of the Wildcat formation.

Oh, and the guy can given drop back as a quarterback and even spent some time in training camp at safety. You just don’t find players as versatile as Cribbs, who the Browns are lucky to employ (which is why they locked him up to a long-term deal this past March).

We were fortunate enough to catch Josh in between games and got to ask him what the secret is to being an elite kick returner. He also filled us in on two Browns to keep an eye on this year (fans will be extremely happy to hear what he said about one young player in particular), what his role will be in Cleveland’s offense over the course of the season and how he did in his acting debut for a September 30th episode of FX’s “The League,” in which he plays himself.

Enjoy the interview and for more on Josh, be sure to check out his Twitter Page.

The Scores Report: Hey Josh, how are you?

Josh Cribbs: Good, how you doing?

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2010 NFL Preview: AFC North Predictions

CLEVELAND - NOVEMBER 16: Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates a defensive stop against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 16, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

2010 NFL Division Previews & Predictions: AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West | NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West | 2010 Question Marks Series

The AFC North is chockfull of good storylines this year, from Big Ben’s suspension to two rising offensive stars in Baltimore to the new receiving duo of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens in Cincinnati.

Oh, and Mike Holmgren is now in charge of a Browns team that is sure to be improved.

Here’s how I see things shaking out in the AFC North in 2010. Be sure to check out the link entitled “2010 Question Mark” under each team’s preview, which is a breakdown of one or two potential weaknesses that could derail that squad’s hopes this season.

1. Ravens

What to Like: Ray Rice is knocking on the door of superstardom and as long as Cam Cameron doesn’t get cute and start limiting his running back’s chances, then I think Rice could produce MVP-type numbers this year. He can do it all: run between the tackles, run outside, be a big-time factor in the passing game – everything. Staying on the offensive side of the ball, Joe Flacco is in store for big things heading into his third season. He made great strides in his development last year and the front office finally went out and got him a No. 1 target in Anquan Boldin. While Boldin can’t stretch the field like he did earlier in this career, he’s a consistent playmaker and will be a great weapon on third downs. On the other side, veteran Derrick Mason continues to be a consistent, steady presence for Flacco. Defensively, Ray Lewis once again anchors a defense that allowed only 300.5 yards per game last season. That was good for third in the NFL and if Terrell Suggs can get back to being the dominant player he was not too long ago, then the Ravens’ D shouldn’t take a step back.
What Not to Like: Suggs has to step up or there will be serious concerns about the pass rush. Trevor Pryce was okay in that department last year, but not great. The team added Corey Redding in the offseason, but he has proven to be a pretty average player over the years. The bigger problem for this team is in the secondary, where Ed Reed isn’t healthy and the secondary was dealt a huge blow when Domonique Foxworth went down for the season with a knee injury in camp. Fabian Washington didn’t play particularly well last season and if the Ravens can’t drum up a pass rush, Chris Carr will likely struggle playing on an island. He’s more suited to play as a nickel, so there are serious concerns about the makeup of this defensive backfield heading into the season.
Keep Your Eye On: Tom Zbikowski
If you notice, the only name I didn’t mention from the list of problems the Ravens will potentially have in their secondary is Tom Zbikowski. That’s because he’s the most underrated player on the Ravens’ defense and arguably the toughest outside of Lewis. With Reed out, the youngster from Notre Dame will be counted on once again this year to make a major contribution.
The Final Word: The lack of a pass rush and the secondary outside of Zbikowski is worrisome, but this is practically the same team that went into Foxboro last year and gave the Patriots the beating of a lifetime on their home turf. Plus, the offense is improved with the acquisition of Boldin and I think Flacco is in store for a huge season. He’s starting to see the entire field and now has two full years of starting experience under his belt. He also has a running back in Rice that he can lean on in case he starts to struggle in the passing game. This is the team to beat in the North this year and I wouldn’t be completely shocked if the Ravens showed up in Dallas come February.

Baltimore Ravens 2010 Question Mark: Secondary

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Did the Browns insult Josh Cribbs?

According to NFL.com, the agent for Browns’ playmaker Josh Cribbs said that his client will formally request a trade after being disappointed with the new contract offer he received from the team.

Cribbs, who set an NFL record for career return touchdowns this season and was promised a new deal above his veteran minimum contract by previous team management, was offered a new deal with an average salary of $1.4 million per season on a six-year deal, according to Rickert, with roughly $400,000 to sign. Cribbs, who is signed through 2012, has been working with the team in an effort to get a new contract since before the season began.

“We’re going to formally put in a request for a trade,” Rickert said. “He will not set foot in that facility again. If they had offered even something like $2.5 million per season we could have worked with them, but to me this offer is indefensible.”

Rickert said that team executive Dawn Aponte told him the offer was final and would not change, and that new team president Mike Holmgren was in agreement with her on the offer.

“Dawn said this was it, this was their offer,” Rickert said. “She said it would be 1.4 today, 1.4 in March and 1.4 in August.”

In 2006, Devin Hester had a breakout rookie year as a returner. If he wasn’t bringing a kick back to the house, he was setting the Bears’ anemic offense up with great field position. Fans and the media often joked that he was their offense.

The following year, the Bears decided that they wanted to try and make him a No. 1 receiver and just like that they limited Hester’s impact. Outside of a couple of big plays a year, he hasn’t been the same player for Chicago that he was his rookie year and the Bears have paid for it.

The Browns should fear that they’re about to lose their Devin Hester by insulting him with a weak contract offer. Cribbs is a game-changer and before Jerome Harrison decided to run like Jim Brown for the final couple games of the season, he was also their only offensive weapon. If Cleveland losses him, then they could wind up making a massive mistake just like the Bears did by forgetting how important Hester was as a returner.

Granted, it’s not the same situation. The Bears also had to decide whether or not Hester was worth the money and they eventually paid him. By making him a receiver, they tried to get the most out of their investment and it just hasn’t panned out.

But the Browns already know what Cribbs can do on offense. He might not be a No. 1 or even a No. 2 receiver, but he’s dangerous out of the Wildcat and explosive in certain packages. If they can’t recognize that, let’s hope he’ll wind up with a team that will. That said, I’m sure Holmgren knows what he’s doing and he does have to worry about 2010 being an uncapped year. So maybe this is just a bump in the road and the two sides will eventually come to an agreement.

If you’re looking for another take on this topic, check out Gerardo Orlando’s from Cleveland Scores, who writes that Cribbs and his agent need to chill out and give Holmgren some time to get his feet under him. After all, the Browns don’t even have a GM yet and Cribbs’ agent is in Holmgren’s grill looking for a new contract.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Jerome Harrison is better than Jim Brown

Really? No, not really. In fact, Cleveland fans might have me shot for even remotely joking about something like that. But Harrison did prove on Sunday that he’s even more dangerous than the Dos Equis Guy.

Harrison rushed for a franchise record 286 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries, while adding two receptions for 12 yards in Cleveland’s 41-34 win. He scored the game-winning touchdown with under a minute to play to give Cleveland back to back winning weeks for the first time this season. Harrison now holds Cleveland’s all-time record for rushing yards in a game, surpassing the great Jim Brown.

Harrison was so good that he managed to overshadow Josh Cribbs, which was hard to do on a day like this. Cribbs tied an NFL record with two kick returns for touchdowns, both of which came from over 100 yards out. He is now the all-time record holder for kickoff return touchdowns, with eight in his career.

Regardless of whether or not Mike Holmgren takes over in Cleveland, the Browns have to do everything in their power to make Cribbs happy in the offseason. He threatened to hold out this past summer if the Browns didn’t re-do his contract, which they didn’t. He never held out and has been the Browns best player this season, so the team’s first mission in the offseason should resolve his contract dispute.

Speaking of the Browns’ offseason, what should they do with Eric Mangini? He was an easy fire a couple of months ago when the Browns were hapless, hopeless and completely lost, but they’ve played well of late. Should he keep his job or should the Browns start over if/when Holmgren comes to town? Usually head coaches are fired when the team is heading backwards, but Cleveland is actually moving forward.

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