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Vickers says he'd fit into Browns' new offense if given chance

Free-agent fullback Lawrence Vickers can't be sure of his future with the Cleveland Browns, not after they took Stanford's Owen Marecic in the fourth round of April's NFL draft, and not after general manager Tom Heckert's comments following that.

Vickers, who has played five seasons with the Browns since they selected him out of Colorado in the 2006 draft, recently told *The Plain Dealer* that he wasn't disappointed when the team nabbed Marecic, apparently to replace him. Vickers was just perplexed.

"I was like, 'Wow,' but at the same time, I laughed," Vickers said. "I don't know what their plans are."

The Browns have a new coach, Pat Shurmur, and a new offensive scheme, the West Coast, and they're looking for the right fit at fullback. After drafting Marecic, Heckert said of Vickers' future in Cleveland: "When the league starts (after the lockout), we'll see."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Vickers fears his reputation as an explosive "knockout fullback," won by opening holes for Jamal Lewis in successive 1,000-yard seasons and paving Jerome Harrison's path to 561 yards in the final three games of 2009, has clouded respect for what he can do with the ball in his hands.

Vickers played in a variation of the West Coast offense at Colorado, gaining more than 500 yards rushing and receiving in his college career. He has caught 41 passes with the Browns, 23 of them in two seasons (2007 and 2008) in former coordinator Rob Chudzinski's offensive scheme.

"I am a West Coast fullback. That's what they don't understand," said Vickers, who didn't receive a contract tender before the NFL lockout started and hasn't spoken to Shurmur or Heckert about his standing with the team. "... Maybe if I wasn't knocking people out, maybe I'd still be known as a versatile fullback. Anybody that watches football knows.

"The last two years, I haven't caught the ball. I wasn't a part of the offense. So I made a way for me to be on the field. That's what a football player does. Anybody that can make his presence on the field without the ball is a helluva guy.

"I played in the West Coast offense at Colorado," Vickers added. "When I first came to the NFL, my first carry was at tailback. In Chud's offense, look at how many passes I caught. People have short-term memories. I forgive them for that. What I've done for you lately is knock people out. That's only because that's all that was left for me to do."

Vickers said the Browns under former coach Eric Mangini were "a team where they don't even use a fullback. Mangini's era wasn't really a fullback era. I played just on (the belief that) 'this person has to be on the field.' Everything I got wasn't given. I took it. Our offense was based on New England's. They don't even have a fullback."

Vickers understands that teams must make decisions, and he doesn't begrudge the Browns their choice of fullbacks.

"I'm not disappointed, because I understand business totally," he said. "In business, you've got to make decisions that are for the business. If it is the end of me, kudos to Cleveland. I'm not angry. My own personal goal was to be in one spot for my whole career. I love Cleveland. I wanted to be like Kevin Mack, who spent his whole career there.

"If it is my departure in Cleveland, I'm going out with a bang. The team is on the rise. Am I mad at Tom or even Mike (Holmgren)? No. I'll see them. I'll shake their hands."

Vickers hopes the team will want him back, even as he realizes it probably won't.

"I just hope I don't have to come to Cleveland in a different uniform, because it's gonna be bad (for the Browns)," he said. "Those (Browns linebackers) are my guys. They know they will come with it and I will come with it. It's gonna be one of those all-time Cleveland games."

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