Policy Not Afraid Of Playoff Talk - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Policy Not Afraid Of Playoff Talk

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Carmen Policy doesn't expect the Cleveland Browns to be watching the playoffs from the sidelines this season.

Policy (pictured, right) isn't making any bold predictions. But the Browns' president isn't backing down from his high expectations.

On the team's 2001 highlights video, Policy said, "Anything less than the playoffs (in 2002) will be a disappointment."

Policy didn't change his stance Thursday as the Browns' veterans reported to training camp and the team tried to finish contract negotiations with rookie running back William Green.

"I'm not saying we're going to make the playoffs," he said. "I'm not saying we're entitled to making the playoffs. I'm not saying this is a foregone conclusion.

"I'm saying where we are from where we've come, with all the work we've put into it, we would feel it would be very disappointing if we didn't make the playoffs."

Policy said the team recognizes that's it's not going to easy to get to the postseason for the first team since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999.

"We understand the work it's going to take for us to get to 9-7 or 10-6," Policy said. "We can make the playoffs if we play as hard as we did last year and suffer fewer injuries."

The stakes are high as the Browns begin their second season under coach Butch Davis. But last summer, Davis was still trying to convince his players that they weren't losers. A 7-9 finish last season has the Browns convinced this summer that they can play with anyone.

"There is reason for optimism," Davis said. "Our team believes, and rightly so, that we have a chance to win every game."

The first full-squad workout will be Friday and, unless he gets signed Thursday night, Green, the team's first-round draft pick, won't be practicing.

Green, taken with the No. 16 overall pick, remains unsigned. He has missed three days of practice with the club's other rookies and select veterans.

Davis, who has disdain for the business side of football, doesn't plan to wait for the former Boston College star.

"We're moving forward with William Green or without William Green," Davis said. "We've got last year's starting running back (James Jackson) back in the fold and Jamel White is a quality player. We can't take any steps backward."

Policy believes that Green's agent, Tom Condon, is waiting for other players taken in the middle of the first round to sign before he completes a deal.

Twelve first-round picks had signed as of Thursday, but none of the players picked between No. 10 and 20 had come to an agreement.

Policy hoped that Oakland's signing Thursday of defensive back Phillip Buchanon, the 17th pick, might hasten Green's arrival.

"If it doesn't, I'll be scratching my head," said Policy. "I think it's a matter of the agent not wanting to, in any way, be upstaged or embarrassed in any way relative to any signing behind or ahead of his client."

Policy expects Pro Bowl linebacker Jamir Miller, who had been looking for a new contract, to be at practice Friday.

"The situation will be resolved," Policy said.

Miller wanted the Browns to tear up the final two years of his contract and had requested a new four-year deal that included a signing bonus in excess of $12 million.

He had 13 sacks last season, becoming the first Cleveland player to make the Pro Bowl since the Browns returned to the league as an expansion team in 1999.

Policy said the club is looking to give Miller a chance to earn more this season through performance incentives.

Once Green is signed, Policy said the Browns would focus on changing wide receiver Kevin Johnson's contract.

Condon, who also represents Johnson and Browns quarterback Tim Couch, recently turned down a three-year, $10 million offer.

Johnson, who is in the final year of his deal, caught 84 passes for 1,097 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

"We're trying to redo Kevin's contract," Policy said. "And we will get to that the moment William Green is signed.

"We want Kevin on this team. We'd like to know he'll be here for several seasons."

Notes: The Browns have no plans to change training sites or close camp to the public, Policy said. Last year, the Browns explored moving to a college campus. "We're not looking anywhere else," he said. ... Dwight Clark, who resigned this spring as the Browns' director of football operations, has been pursuing some TV broadcasting opportunities. Policy said Clark is also considering joining the sports marketing division of MBNA Corp., the credit card giant owned by Browns owner Al Lerner. ... Running back James Jackson was examined after a collision during Thursday's practice with rookie cornerback Kalvin Pearson.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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