The Cleveland Browns today signed punter Spencer Lanning, the team announced. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chicago Bears on July 26, 2011, Lanning spent training camp with the Browns last season before being waived on August 26, 2012.
He has also spent time with Jacksonville and the New York Jets. Lanning was a four-year letterman at the University of South Carolina (2007-10) who finished his career with 171 punts for a 42.6-yard average and 46 punts inside the 20-yard line. He also served as a kicker during his final two collegiate seasons, connecting on 34 of 44 field goal attempts and 80 of 84 PATs.
A native of Rock Hill, South Carolina, the 5-11, 200-pound Lanning attended York Comprehensive High School in South Carolina. He was born May 21, 1988.
(Knoxville, TN) - Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam has his old job back.
Less than six months after hiring a top-ranking cola executive to run Pilot Flying J, Knoxnews.com reports that Jimmy Haslam is moving back into the corner office.
The Knoxville-based chain of truck stops and travel centers announced today that Haslam is returning to the role of CEO. He replaces John Compton, the former PepsiCo president whose hiring was announced in September.
Haslam said today that he missed being CEO of Pilot Flying J, and noted that a team of executives has been hired to run the Cleveland Browns since he bought the team last year.
The change at Pilot Flying J, he said, was "not about John." "This is about me realizing my first love is running Pilot Flying J and wanting to return to that job," Haslam said.
Haslam bought the Browns last year from Randy Lerner and has been quite visible at the team HQ in Berea and at Browns game.
Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis said Haslam's decision to return to Pilot Flying J "will have no impact on the operations of the Browns nor will it affect Jimmy's involvement with the team."
It's not clear how Haslam will split his time between Knoxville and his recently purchased home in Bratenahl.
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(Copyright © 2013 by Clear Channel and/or the Associated Press, all rights reserved.)
The Cleveland Browns today named Chris DiSanto (assistant strength and conditioning), Ken Flajole (inside linebackers), Steve Gera (special assistant to the head coach), Derik Keyes (assistant strength and conditioning) and John Settle (running backs) to the 2013 coaching staff.
“The additions of Ken and John, as well as Chris, Derik and Steve, round out what I believe is an extremely strong group of coaches with diverse backgrounds, covering many years of experience at both the NFL and collegiate levels,” said Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinski.
“They are all outstanding teachers and leaders who will bring out the best in our players. “Ken is a highly regarded coach with an extensive režsumež in the NFL. He has achieved success as a position coach and coordinator in the league.
Like other members of our defensive staff, he has experience working in several different schemes, an attribute which will be valuable as we develop the Browns’ defense. I have been with John the last two years in Carolina, and know first-hand the type of coach that he is. His players have always been productive and respond well to his teaching methods.”
DiSanto spent the 2012 season in the same capacity at the University of California. Prior to his time with the Golden Bears, DiSanto served four seasons (2008-11) as assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Oakland Raiders.
After graduating from West Chester (Pa.) University in 2000, DiSanto worked as a volunteer strength and conditioning coach for the Philadelphia Eagles for two seasons (2000-01), while also serving in the same role with the Philadelphia Kixx (Major Indoor Soccer League), the Philadelphia Wings (National Lacrosse League) and at his alma mater. In 2005, DiSanto was the offensive line and assistant strength and conditioning coach for the University of Pikesville. He spent 2007 as a strength and conditioning intern with the Minnesota Vikings.
In 2003, DiSanto played four months with multiple teams in the Arena Football League and the Arena Football League 2 as an offensive and defensive lineman. During the 2006 season, DiSanto was with the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League 2. A native of Holland, Pa.,
DiSanto is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Flajole (pronounced FLAY-juhl) brings 36 years of coaching experience to Cleveland, including the 2012 season as the secondary coach of the New Orleans Saints. Prior to joining the Saints, Flajole spent three seasons (2009-11) as defensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams. Before joining the Rams, he spent six seasons (2003-08) as the Carolina Panthers’ linebackers coach.
Prior to his stint with the Panthers, Flajole coached four seasons (1999-2002) with the Seattle Seahawks. He spent three of his four seasons (1999, 2001-02) coaching the defensive backs and 2000 as the club’s linebackers coach. He began his NFL coaching career in 1998 as a defensive assistant with the Green Bay Packers.
Flajole entered the coaching ranks at his alma mater, Pacific Lutheran, in 1977. He then made collegiate coaching stops at Washington (1979), Montana (1980-85), Texas-El Paso (1986-88), Missouri (1989-93), Richmond (1994), Hawaii (1995) and Nevada (1996-97).
A native of Seattle, Flajole was an All-Conference linebacker at Wenatchee Valley Community College (Wenatchee, Wash.) and Pacific Lutheran (Tacoma, Wash.). He and his wife, Teri, have two daughters, Kelly and Kori. Gera spent the last six years (2007-12) as an offensive assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers where he assisted the coaching staff with scouting and film breakdown
. Prior to his time in San Diego, Gera served four years in the United States Marine Corps, including two tours in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a decorated Captain in the Marines, Gera earned eight medals during his military career.
Gera graduated from the University of Missouri in 2000 with a degree in English and an MBA from the sports business program at San Diego State University in 2007. A native of Kansas City, Mo., Gera is married (Stacey). Keyes coached the 2012 season in the same capacity with the Houston Texans. During his time with the Texans, he assisted in the supervision of weight training and focused on the speed and agility development of players on injured reserve.
Prior to joining the Texans, Keyes was an assistant strength and conditioning coach at his alma mater, the University of Louisiana–Lafayette, for the 2011 season. He spent the 2010 season as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of South Alabama and 2009 as an assistant strength and conditioning intern at Louisiana–Lafayette.
A four-year letterman (2005-08) as a safety at Louisiana–Lafayette, Keyes was named to the Sun Belt All-Conference second team as a senior. He earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations/business finance from Louisiana–Lafayette in 2008 and a master’s degree in exercise science from South Alabama in 2010. A native of Laurel, Miss.,
Keyes attended Lafayette (La.) High School. He is a certified USAW Level I Sports Performance coach. Settle spent the past two seasons (2011-12) in the same capacity with the Carolina Panthers.
This is his second stint with the Browns, as he spent the 1995 season as an offensive assistant/special teams quality control coach. In Settle’s first season with the Panthers, the team made NFL history as they became the first club to feature three 700-yard rushers.
DeAngelo Williams (836), Jonathan Stewart (761) and Cam Newton (706) each reached the mark as the team also set a club record for average per rush attempt (5.4). In total, team rushed for 2,408 yards on the year, the third-most in franchise history.
Prior to his stint in Carolina, Settle spent five seasons (2006-10) in the same capacity at the University of Wisconsin. While leading the Badgers’ running backs, Settle spearheaded a unit that averaged more than 200 rushing yards per contest in each of his last four seasons.
He also guided three players who posted a combined six 1,000-yard rushing campaigns (P.J. Hill – 3, John Clay – 2, James White – 1). Prior to joining Wisconsin, Settle spent eight seasons (1998-2005) at Fresno State, leading the Bulldogs’ running backs unit.
During his tenure at Fresno State, he coached six different running backs who recorded 1,000-yard seasons. Settle entered the coaching ranks at his alma mater, Appalachian State University, coaching the running backs in 1994, before spending three seasons in the NFL with the Browns (1995) and Baltimore Ravens (1996-97).
Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons following the 1987 NFL Draft, Settle played in 46 games with 29 starts in six NFL seasons (1987-92) as a running back with the Falcons (1987-90) and Washington Redskins (1991-92).
A four-year letterman (1983-86) as a running back at Appalachian State University, Settle finished his collegiate career as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,409 yards and 43 touchdowns. A native of Reidsville, N.C., he attended Rockingham County High School. He and his wife, Karen, have three children, Jonathan, Leighton and Devynn.
(Cleveland) - The Browns celebrated Black History Month with a special panel on Thursday at First Energy Stadium.
In the audience were 150 students from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The topic was "Lessons from the Past: Overcoming Challenges of Racial Barriers".
Browns legends, Bobby Mitchell, Greg Pruitt, Paul Wiggin & John Wooten.
The discussion, was moderated by Pro Football Hall of Fame President and Executive Director Steve Perry, and included former Browns greats Bobby Mitchell, John Wooten, Paul Wiggin and Greg Pruitt.
All four legends praised the Browns for setting equality as the standard for players on the field. However, Mitchell told of facing discrimination and segregation during his playing days in college.
Wiggin says it still haunts him when he recalls how black players were treated during his college years.
Wooten contends there still is some racism in sports, but he urged the students to rise above it, by achieving excellence on and off the field.
Pruitt says one of the best ways to succeed in sports is by using disadvantages as a motivating factor. The former running back and youngest ex-Brown on the panel explained that he was always the smallest player on the team, but that motivated him to be a difference-maker.
Pruitt urged the students to associate with people of good character, and to make sure they are prepared for the opportunities that lie ahead.
The early Browns teams made the kind of history both on and off the field that people are still talking about more than a half-century later.
In their first 10 years of existence from 1946-55, the Browns went to an unprecedented 10 straight league championship games. They played for the title every single year.
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The Cleveland Browns Tuesday released defensive lineman Frostee Rucker, the team announced.
Rucker started all 16 games at right end last season and totaled 48 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble.
BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton says he was "disappointed'' at not getting a head coaching job, but believes the NFL's policy for promoting minority candidates works.
Horton, who spent the past two seasons with Arizona, interviewed with several teams for head coaching vacancies this offseason. Horton said he respects the process - and the league's Rooney Rule - and believes owners hired coaches they felt gave their teams the best chance to win.
Horton said it's his "hope'' to one day be a head coach, but he's happy to inherit Cleveland's young defense. Horton intends to use "multiple'' defensive fronts and stressed he's looking for "big men that can run and little men that can hit.''
The Browns played a 4-3 scheme the past two seasons under coordinator Dick Jauron.
The Cleveland Browns today named Ray Horton as defensive coordinator, the team announced. He served in the same capacity the previous two seasons (2011-12) with the Arizona Cardinals. Horton’s résumé includes 19 years of experience coaching in the NFL, following a 10-year playing career as a defensive back.
“We are truly excited that we were able to get someone of Ray’s caliber as our defensive coordinator,” said Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinski. “He possesses a great deal of experience as a player, position coach and coordinator in the NFL and has been part of some of the top defenses in the league throughout his career. He is an extremely talented coach and I know that he will work very well with the young nucleus of players we have on defense.
“With the additions of Ray and Norv (Turner), and also by retaining Chris (Tabor) we believe we have outstanding leaders and teachers in each of our three phases. I feel as though we are off to a great start in our plan of putting together an outstanding coaching staff.”
“As we’ve said before, an important factor in hiring Rob was our confidence in him being able to put together a top-quality staff,” said Browns CEO Joe Banner. “He has assembled an extremely impressive group of coaches, and that will be very beneficial as we develop our players.”
This past season, Horton guided a defensive unit that led the NFL in passer rating allowed (71.2) and interception percentage (4.4%). His defense also ranked second in the NFL in interceptions (22) and third-down efficiency (32.9%), third in red zone defense (44.4%) and fourth in takeaways (33). The defense also ranked fifth in passing defense (200.8 ypg), first downs allowed (288) and points allowed per drive (1.42).
Cardinals defensive back Patrick Peterson ranked fourth in the NFL with seven interceptions and led the league with five fumble recoveries en route to being the only Cardinal selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl. Horton made an immediate impact upon his arrival in 2011, as the club’s defense allowed 34 total touchdowns, their fewest since 1994, while leading the NFL in third down efficiency (31.4%).
Prior to his time in Arizona, Horton spent seven seasons (2004-10) as the defensive backs/assistant defensive backs coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers. During his tenure in Pittsburgh, he helped the Steelers defense rank in the top 10 in the NFL in total defense each season, including leading the NFL on three occasions (2004, ’07-08). Horton was pivotal in the development of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, as he was selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls (2005-10), named a first-team All-Pro three times (2005, 2008, 2010) and was voted as the 2010 AP Defensive Player of the Year.
Horton began his coaching career in Washington, where he served as assistant defensive backs/defensive assistant for three seasons (1994-96). He then made two stops as defensive backs coach with the Cincinnati Bengals (1997-2001) and Detroit Lions (2002-03), before landing in Pittsburgh.
A second-round selection (53rd overall) by Cincinnati in the 1983 NFL Draft, Horton appeared in 147 games with 99 starts with the Bengals (1983-88) and Dallas Cowboys (1989-92). Over the course of his career, he notched 19 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles and scored five defensive touchdowns. He also made two Super Bowl appearances, playing in Super Bowl XXIII with Cincinnati and winning Super Bowl XXVII with Dallas.
A three-year letterman (1980-82) as a defensive back at the University of Washington, Horton earned All-Pac 10 honors and played in two Rose Bowls. A native of Tacoma, Washington, he attended Mount Tacoma High School where he was an All-American. He is married (Karena) and has a daughter, Taylor and a son, Jarren. Get breaking news sent to your mobile phone. Text "news" to 21095.
(Copyright © 2013 by Clear Channel, all rights reserved. Photo by Getty Images.)
(Berea) - The Cleveland Browns have hired TV analyst Michael Lombardi as their vice president of player personnel.
Lombardi has 22 years of pro front office experience, but he has spent the past five seasons working for the NFL Network. He previously worked for the Browns from 1987-95 under then-coach Bill Belichick. Lombardi has also worked for new Browns CEO Joe Banner in Philadelphia and the two have maintained a close relationship. Last week, Banner denied Lombardi was assisting him in the club's coaching search.
Lombardi has also worked in San Francisco and Oakland, where he spent eight seasons (1999-2007).
The Browns have been looking for a general manager or personnel director since Tom Heckert was fired following a 5-11 season. Heckert overhauled Cleveland's roster in three seasons.
Lombardi calls being with the Browns a "tremendous opportunity." He says he understands the fan's passion and how important the Browns are to Cleveland. He called the team's departure in 1996 "heartbreaking".
Lombardi says he missed Sundays in the NFL while working as an analyst and was ready to get back into the league. He says he's excited and has never shied away from a challenge.
Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam says Lombardi stood out in a strong field of candidates. He calls Lombardi an outstanding player evaluator and someone who understands how to put together a team that can be a consistant winner.
Haslam also says his contacts at the top levels of the NFL told him to hire Lombardi if he was willing to take the job.
Team President Joe Banner also says Lombardi's strength is building teams rather just picking players. Banner also likes the fact that they've worked together in the past.
Last week, the team hired former Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski as its sixth coach since 1999.
(Copyright 2013 by Clear Channel and the Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
(BEREA) -- The Browns officially introduced new team Vice President of Player Personnel Michael Lombardi on Friday afternoon at a press conference.
Lombardi brings 22 years of NFL experience as a front office executive to his second stint the Browns, most recently spending eight seasons (1999-2007) in the player personnel department of the Oakland Raiders. Since 2008, he has worked primarily as an analyst with NFL Network and NFL.com.
Over the course of his NFL career, Lombardi has been associated with teams that have advanced to the playoffs on 10 occasions, won seven division titles, made five Conference Championship game appearances and earned two trips to the Super Bowl, capturing Super Bowl XIX following the 1984 season as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
During his tenure with the Raiders, Lombardi’s role included, dealing with personnel decisions and contract negotiations in the player personnel department. Oakland captured three consecutive AFC West titles (2000-02) and advanced to Super Bowl XXXVII while he was a member of the organization.
Prior to joining the Raiders staff, Lombardi spent two seasons (1997-98) with the personnel department of the Philadelphia Eagles. He played an integral role in the 1998 draft, one in which the Eagles selected future Pro Bowlers in offensive tackle Tra Thomas, linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, kick returner Allen Rossum and linebacker Ike Reese. As a part of that draft, the club also traded for defensive lineman Hugh Douglas, who would become a key component of the defense, as he led the team in sacks for three straight seasons (2000-02) and was voted to the Pro Bowl each of those years. Those players helped lay the foundation for Philadelphia, who would reach the playoffs five straight seasons (2000-04), including four consecutive trips to the NFC Championship game (2001-04) and a berth in Super Bowl XXXIX.
In his first tour with the Browns, Lombardi joined the club as a member of the scouting staff in 1987. He was named the team’s pro personnel director in 1989, a title in which he held until 1993. The Browns won two AFC Central titles in 1987 and 1989, along with advancing to the AFC Championship game both seasons. He was promoted to director of player personnel in 1993, and the following season of 1994, the Browns compiled an 11-5 record and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs after having won just three games in 1990.
Lombardi joined the NFL personnel ranks in 1984, spending three seasons (1984-86) in the personnel department of the San Francisco 49ers. With the 49ers, Lombardi coordinated scouting reports and evaluated collegiate talent as the club captured the 1984 and 1986 NFC West titles and defeated the Miami Dolphins, 38-16, in Super Bowl XIX to conclude his first season with the team.
Outside of the front office, Lombardi has held multiple positions as a collegiate coach, analyst, reporter and writer throughout his career. Immediately following his collegiate playing career, he spent two seasons (1982-83) as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas. As a member of the media, he spent 1996 as an NFL draft analyst for ESPN. He also spent portions of 1998 and 1999 as a studio analyst for CBS Sports as on-air talent for the NFL Today Pre-Game Show.
A native of Ocean City, New Jersey, Lombardi lettered in both football and baseball at Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania. He then attended Hofstra University, where he was a three-year letterman (1979-81) as a defensive lineman and earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
Michael and his wife, Millie, have two sons, Mick, a scouting assistant with the New England Patriots, and Matthew, a senior at the University of Delaware.
Report courtesy of the Cleveland Browns. Nick Camino also contributed to this report.