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Browns sign 9 undrafted rookies

Zac Jackson, Staff Writer


On the eve of the team's annual rookie minicamp, the Browns announced the signing of nine undrafted rookie free agents.

Those nine will join the team's seven draft picks and 34 tryout players for the minicamp, which officially commences with meetings Thursday night and includes on-field practice sessions Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Of the nine players to sign with the Browns, seven are offensive players, three are offensive linemen and two are Ohio natives -- Toledo linebacker Mike Alston and Wooster offensive lineman Rick Drushal.

Alston was a two-time All-MAC selection at Toledo after a decorated prep career at Columbus Beechcroft High School. Drushal, a four-time All-NCAC pick at Wooster, played at West Holmes High School in Millersburg.

Drushal is the only Division III player to sign with the Browns. The team signed three players out of the Division I-AA ranks: Tennessee State wide receiver Mike Mason, Arkansas Pine-Bluff fullback Charles Ali and McNeese State offensive lineman Brent Pousson.

To draftniks, the two most notable names on the Browns' signing list are Miami (Fl.) running back Tyrone Moss and Iowa State offensive lineman Scott Stephenson.

Moss played in 39 career games for the Hurricanes, cracking the school's all-time top 10 list with 1,926 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns. He suffered a torn ACL in the second half of the 2005 season and was Miami's primary backup last year, though he did start four games.

At 5-foot-9, 232, Moss will be a powerful, compact complement to the Browns' other, smaller backup running backs, Jason Wright, Jerome Harrison and Chris Barclay.

Stephenson was a two-year starter at center for Iowa State after transferring from Minnesota. He'll look to follow the path taken a year ago by Rob Smith, who spent the first half of 2006 on the practice squad and was promoted and playing in regular season games by the end of the year.

The Browns also signed Arizona State kicker Jesse Ainsworth and Vanderbilt linebacker Hunter Funtaine.

Mason, who played his final year of college football at Tennessee State after transferring from North Carolina, was a productive receiver on both levels and also should compete for a job as punt and/or kickoff returner with the Browns.

All the signings are pending the players passing physicals before taking to the practice field. The full list of weekend minicamp participants will be released on Friday.