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Michael Lombardi to evaluate Brandon Weeden

Michael Lombardi enjoyed his time at NFL Network, but he's ready to get back to work in the NFL as the Cleveland Browns vice president of player personnel.

"I've been resting for five years," Lombardi said. "I'm ready to go. I've had enough makeup on."

Lombardi didn't have to wait long to be re-introduced to some of the less pleasant aspects of his new job. The Cleveland media, which appears beyond skeptical of Lombardi's hire, interrogated him for 30 minutes. It was alternately uncomfortable and hilarious. There is usually a honeymoon period for a new regime, but this was like a press conference after a 2-14 season.

Lombardi even noted that he knew the reaction from the Cleveland fan base and media after his return to the organization, viewing it as a positive. Lombardi later asked the local media for a fresh start.

"I've never shied away from a challenge," Lombardi said.

The first challenge: Evaluating the Browns roster. Lombardi has reportedly made negative comments about Browns players like quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Josh Gordon in his previous role as a television analyst. Gordon even tweeted Friday wondering if he was "in trouble."

"He has nothing to worry about," Lombardi said, joking that Gordon can take over Lombardi's Twitter account. "He can have my Twitter account."

So what about Weeden?

"I think it's going to take some time to study him," Lombardi said.

Lombardi told Mary Kay-Cabot of The Plain Dealer that he will evaluate Weeden's play, not his age. Lombardi also said he will look to "move forward" from previous negative comments about Browns players, but it will be tougher with the Cleveland media so clearly unhappy with Lombardi's hiring. CEO Joe Banner said the Browns hired Lombardi with "eyes wide open" and spent much of the news conference defending the selection. They knew there would be backlash, but owner Jimmy Haslam said he wasn't concerned about it.


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"If I was same guy who was here 20 years ago, I'd say Joe and Jimmy shouldn't have hired me," Lombardi said.

The Browns talked up Lombardi's intelligence, work ethic, ability to scout players and build a scouting staff. They liked that Lombardi talked about building a team rather than a collection of players.

Perhaps the most important piece of information from the press conference: No one has "final say" over the Browns roster. Banner said that the team will reach decisions by consensus. If there is disagreement among decisions makers (Presumably Lombardi, Banner, and coach Rob Chudzinski), then the team will simply move on to another player.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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