Former Jayhawk Turning Heads in Cleveland

Aug. 5, 2005

Courtesy of ClevelandBrowns.com

Rideau catching passes, attention
By Jeff Walcoff, Staff Writer
August 5, 2005

Every year there seems to be one. A player from completely off the radar turns heads during training camp.

Two years ago, Leigh Bodden and C.J. Jones did it. Frisman Jackson was the guy in ’02.

It didn’t take long for the 2005 candidate to surface.

Receiver Brandon Rideau (pronounced REE-dough) wasn’t even a member of the Browns roster during minicamp in May. The undrafted rookie was invited to the camp as one of 20 tryout players.

After three days of workouts, only three tryout candidates were signed. One was Cincinnati offensive lineman Clint Stickdorn. The second was since-released defensive lineman Ellery Moore. The third was Rideau.

“We had a meeting with all the unsigned guys and after the meeting the coach told us some of us would be signed and some won’t,” Rideau said. “After I came out, a guy pulled me to the side and told me they wanted to sign me.

“I was excited. I didn’t know exactly how it was going to go. I knew I had ability and I knew I wanted to be able to come out and show what I could do. I just left it up to God.”

Even at first glance, it was obvious Rideau fit in with the pros more so than many of the other tryout candidates, and even more than some of the already-signed undrafted rookies.

He ran crisp routes, controlled his body, and caught nearly every ball thrown his way. And so far in training camp, he has picked up right where he left off.

“That’s why he’s carrying my helmet,” veteran receiver Antonio Bryant said. “When you’ve been in the game long enough and you see a guy like that, you lean on him and make him pay his dues because that’s a guy who has potential.”

Receiver Dennis Northcutt added, “There’s always that rookie, that free agent, that tryout guy that’s going to make a name and say, `You know what? I want to play in this league.’ Right now, he’s that guy. Plain and simple. He’s doing things that some of the veterans aren’t doing.”

Someone far more important also has noticed Rideau.

“We noticed in the rookie minicamp that he had some size and he flashed some ability–enough that we signed him,” head coach Romeo Crennel said. “He was able to come in here at this camp and be an effective receiver.

“He’s made catches during the course of practice with guys on him. When he gets open, he makes the catches then. He’s a big target, so we’re excited about his prospects. Whether that’s going to put him on the team or not, we’re still evaluating, but he’s made good strides.”

Although playing on the third and fourth teams, Rideau seems to get thrown to on nearly every play in which he participates. He’s catching balls alone, in traffic, and along the sidelines.

“I feel like I’m doing my best to get open and trusting in the quarterbacks to find me when they feel they need to come to me,” Rideau said. “I’m able to pick up on the scheme pretty good. I’ve been spending a lot of time observing what the older guys are doing so I can catch on.”

As is the case in most units, the older guys have been helpful.

“I keep telling him, `You have to understand your hustle has to be a lot harder than a lot of other guys right now for you to get noticed,'” Bryant said. “‘Don’t get too high or too low. If you get too high, you’re going to come down way low. Just stay (in the middle).’ That’s something I had to learn in this league”.

Now, Rideau is anxiously looking forward to the team’s preseason games. He knows those will be the ultimate test of his ability to make on the Browns roster.

“Not too many people know about my playing ability or know of me. I feel like I have a chance to make a name for myself,” Rideau said. “I’m just trying to make the best out of my opportunity.”

Rideau has the opportunity to be the next member of a talented list of players who started as undrafted rookies after being scouted by Phil Savage.

The list includes Pro Bowl running back Priest Holmes, Ravens safety Will Demps, 49ers defensive lineman Marques Douglas, veteran center Mike Flynn and second-year running back/return man B.J. Sams.

However, with nine other receivers on the team and probably only room for five or six on the 53-man roster, Rideau has his work cut out for him. Especially considering four of those slots are all but locked with Bryant, Northcutt, Andre’ Davis and rookie Braylon Edwards.

Rideau’s other likely landing spot could be the team’s practice squad. His chances are aided by the change in ’04 which increased practice squads from five to eight players.

Luckily for Rideau, he has several seasoned veterans to make sure he keeps his eyes on the true prize and does not get ahead of himself.

“If you want to make it in this league, make it in the NFL and have your dreams come true, you have to make plays,” Northcutt said. “It’s not going to be given to you. You have to make a name for yourself. That’s what he’s doing and I’m happy for him, but he has to continue to work. There are a lot of things he has to get better at.

“If he can continue to do what he’s doing, hopefully he can make this team and come join us. Anyone who can help us, we’re happy to have him.”