By Browns Gab Editor Derek McQuaid
The NFL lockout has certainly stamped it’s mark on the NFL season so far. Everyone in America seems to be affected – owners, coaches, players, the networks – both television and social – are affected. Like the NFL season, the fantasy football season is very much in limbo.
No one is affected more, however, than the players and the coaches. Free agents are very much in limbo as to where they’ll be playing this season, and potential free agents aren’t sure if they’ll remain with their current teams or move on in their careers with different teams.
One of those potential free agents is Browns fullback, Lawrence Vickers. While his status with the team is in serious doubt, Vickers stated that he wants to remain in Cleveland during a recent interview. When asked if he wanted to remain a Brown, he was very clear with his answer.
“Yes, I’ve always wanted to be a Brown. It’s not about money like everyone thinks it is. I started my career in Cleveland, and I’d like to finish my career in Cleveland. Who wouldn’t want to stay in one place?”
He also made it very clear that he wasn’t phased by the team drafting Stanford standout Owen Marecic.
“I didn’t really think anything about it. I felt that with them drafting him (Marecic), it had nothing to do with me. He’s a different individual and player, and of course things are going to be speculated. I’m going to do what I’m going to do – win and play hard.”
Marecic seems to be the cause for all this uncertainty for Vickers, as it’s assumed that he was drafted to replace Vickers, who says he hasn’t talked to the rookie fullback. I also asked Lawrence what he thought about the leadership qualities, 2nd Year QB Colt McCoy, has displayed throughout this offseason..
“Colt wants to be great and he has the attitude, ambition, and drive to do so. He’s one of the most talented QBs out there and has had success at every level of competition in football. He wants to win and be great but he wants to do it the right way. He wants everyone around him to win.”
Vickers also told me that he hasn’t attended any of the “Camp Colt” sessions, and has been working out on his own trying to stay in shape.
One of the lesser known free agent positions is fullback and there seems to be a few “big” names, including Vickers, who could find themselves on a different roster to start the season. Heath Evans (Saints), John Kuhn (Packers) and Le’Ron McClain (Ravens) are some of the more well known names around the league at the position, and Vickers feels that he doesn’t compare to any of those guys…
“I don’t compare. Each of those guys bring something different to the position. Evans isn’t Vickers, and Vickers isn’t Kuhn or McClain. They’re all different. I feel I have all the tools to be successful – you need a touchdown? I got it. Need me to bust up the linebackers to pave way for the tailback, I can do that too. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be successful and win.”
While Vickers doesn’t know what uniform he’ll be in this coming season, he’s certainly established himself as one of the better fullbacks in the league. Vickers has had the opportunity to open up holes for Jamal Lewis (back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons), Jerome Harrison (286 yards against the Chiefs), and Peyton Hillis (Madden ’12 cover winner). He loves his position, and absolutely loves the players he’s had the opportunity to block for.
“I’ve enjoyed blocking for all of them. (Lewis, Harrison, Hillis). They each have their own style, and I’ve had to adjust my game to theirs. Jamal was a different back than Harrison and Hillis and vice versa. It hasn’t always been about me gaining yards. I think, in the NFL, it’s better to give than to receive. So when Peyton Hillis was named to the cover of Madden ’12, that was my gift as well. All those yards those guys have gained, I truly feel like they’re my yards as well.”
I, personally, don’t want to see the team part ways with Lawrence Vickers. He’s one of the toughest, smartest, and unselfish players in the league – and he wears a Cleveland uniform. Truthfully, the team needs more players like him. If he ends up on a different roster to start the season, he’s probably going to miss gamedays in Cleveland.
“Cleveland is a blue collar town, they love the Browns. Sunday morning, everyone is tailgating. When I pull up to the stadium, it looks like the entire city of Cleveland is in one tailgate area. When you’re on the field warming up, the Dawg Pound is hyped and they really are a part of the game. Almost like a 12th Man feelin’. I love it, absolutely love it.”
And his fondest memory? It’s one in which he shares with many Cleveland fans.
“My fondest memory would have to be the 2009 game against the Chiefs when Jerome Harrison broke the record (rushing for 286 yards to break Jim Brown’s team record). I got to lead the way the whole time. Harrison was a star waiting for his opportunity to start and to shine, and I’m happy I was part of it. Harrison’s success that year, will be my fondest memory playing for Cleveland.”
Lawrence has altered his style of play from the west coast offense player he was in Colorado, to the hard nose, punishing blocker he is now. He’s embraced the city of Cleveland, which is something that us fans want out of all the players on the Cleveland roster.
It’s not about money with Vickers, who just wants to be successful and do anything he can to help his team win. Stats don’t mean a thing to Lawrence, and he gets just as much satisfaction out of those 1000 yard seasons, as the tailbacks do.
No one knows where Vickers will land to start the season, but whoever that team may be – is getting one of the most punishing, unselfish, and toughest guys in the league. Let’s just hope that he doesn’t find his way into Cleveland Stadium as a visitor, that could spell disaster for the Browns.