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McCoy winning over Browns teammates by leading from front

This offseason could serve as a referendum on the hold that several young quarterbacks have over their respective teams.

Safe to say, Colt McCoy has passed the test.

Over the last month, McCoy has been the point man in organizing and planning to bring Cleveland Browns wide receivers, running backs and tight ends to Austin, Texas, for a three-day minicamp. That camp kicked off Thursday, with McCoy having secured lodging for his teammates and practice fields for them to run football-specific drills.

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"I'm really excited to see the guys, that camaraderie is key, especially with Colt," Browns receiver/kick returner Josh Cribbs said after arriving in Texas. "He realizes if he's going to be the leader, it starts now. It's kind of a backyard thing, it has that feel to it, going to be out there like the 'Little Giants.' We don't even have a playbook. But we have our heads together, and we know it's important for us to meet as an offense."

Indeed, new coach Pat Shurmur hasn't been able to hand out playbooks, much less run any type of installation sessions with his new players.

To fill in the blanks, Cribbs said that he and his teammates have dug up film of last year's St. Louis Rams, for whom Shurmur was offensive coordinator, and come up with a makeshift version of the playbook to go through during field drills in Austin.

"We have to watch TV copies of St. Louis, mimic their routes, the structure of their offense," Cribbs said. "The idea is for it to be just like a practice day: Warm up, stretch, lift weights, and run first, then throw together as a group. ... We're doing bag drills, cone drills, and then we start throwing.

"I'm sure they're going to change (the offense) to fit the key guys on our team and, right now, it's not that important that we run specific routes, it's more important we run routes period. But you've been out of football for so long, you want to get back in the groove, and this is part of getting into it."

Up until now, Cribbs has been splitting time working out in Cleveland and at API in Los Angeles, and he's like everyone else -- waiting for the labor situation to be resolved. But in the meantime, he does understand the opportunity that's here for a young team to get an edge on its opponents. Cribbs says that after McCoy proved himself as "a gamer" last fall, and after seeing the leadership he has displayed the last month, he has "won us over."

What's happening in this locked-out April has Cribbs as excited for September as can be.

"Starting early is key," Cribbs said. "We don't know how long this (lockout) is going to be, but we've already scheduled our next (camp), and we plan to get together a lot of times and do what we need to do. When I first met Coach Shurmur, I told him, 'I just want to win.' And he looked at me and said, 'Me, too.' What we're doing now is going to help."

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer

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