Cleveland Browns linebacker Willie Harvey is back for a third try with the team.
Willie Harvey, an undrafted free agent linebacker who had a remarkable training camp for the Cleveland Browns in 2019, is back in camp, signing with the Browns on Friday after second-year Jacob Phillips went on IR with a torn biceps muscle that apparently will require surgery.
The thing is, Harvey is one of those guys who is a little too small and didn’t blow away the Combine, but every time they put him on the field in an exhibition game, he dominated. You can say exhibition games don’t count, but it’s all we have to go on, and nobody ever proved that he can’t play.
Something else to consider is that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer is one of the few coaches who survived Freddie Kitchens’ firing. Harvey played special teams for Priefer for two games before being waived.
Harvey had another shot with the team in 2020 but was ultimately waived at the end of summer.
In 2019 Willie Harvey turned in a dominant fourth-quarter performance in the second exhibition game versus the Indianapolis Colts. He made several tackles, and blitzed quarterback Chad Kelly, hitting him to disrupt his pass. Harvey’s best play came on fourth down at the end of the game, when he blew through the Colts’ pass protection, then batted down an attempted pass from Chad Kelly to seal the Browns’ victory.
Harvey didn’t jump up and down and celebrate, remaining totally cool, as if he expected to make big plays and win the game. Gotta love that. Paul Brown used to urge his players to “act like you’ve been there before!” Us old-school guys dig players like Willie Harvey, yes sir.
Versus Jacksonville, look for Harvey on special teams. This is his third summer with special teams coach Mike Priefer, so he should be able to step right in and play. If he is going to make this team, it will have to be on the basis of superior special teams play. That might happen because some of the key special teams players, such as Tavierre Thomas (12 special teams tackles) and linebacker Tae Davis (nine tackles) are already gone.
Stephen Carlson had nine special teams tackles, but he is already on IR. linebacker Elijah Lee also had nine tackles. Also KhaDarel Hodge may run aground due to salary cap concerns. As hard as it is to believe, the Browns have already lost 39 special teams tackles. The situation is a bit problematic. Put it this way, Priefer has his work cut out for him.
The Browns have also brought back linebacker Montrel Meander after a four-day enforced vacation. Meander had been cut on August 16, but the Browns thought better of that decision after Phillips went on IR.
Like Harvey, Meander has been bouncing between the practice squad and the big team. He had 45 special teams snaps in 2020