Am I the only Browns fan wondering why the mainstream media (including Sporting News and ESPN) seems ready to coronate tight end Steve Heiden as the starter at that position in the upcoming campaign?
I will wager that Royal gets the nod. Robert was picked up as a free agent from the Buffalo Bills. He is an inch shorter and 10-15 pounds lighter than Heiden, however, he is more nimble in traffic among the linebackers and more explosive down the field on longer balls. When the Bills released him, the sports commentators covering Orchard Park had mixed reactions. The knock on Royal was how sure his hands are. But overall, he tends to rank higher than Heiden at the TE position.
Royal is also two years younger than Steve, and Robert is not coming off of major surgery.
Mangini likes to mix things up; the odds are good that he will go with the guy that he brought in rather than Heiden.
One day is obviously inadequate to judge the performance of an NFL player, even if I was qualified to render that judgment on an informed basis (which I’m not). But I saw first-hand yesterday over a couple of hours what I have heard reported earlier at Training Camp. At practice in Berea, Royal got a lot of work with the QBs. It is hard to focus your attention exclusively on one player, but there were at least two ocassions where I saw great speed and footwork by Royal leading to solid catches against defenders. I was not the only one around who asked out loud, “who’s that”, as I heard it from a couple of fellas nearby. It was Royal.
I think it is a little early to coronate Heiden just yet.