Palmer wasting little time

By Tom Withers Associated Press Published:

CLEVELAND - Chris Palmer has never been one of those sleep-in-the-office type coaches, who after endless hours studying game film and scouting reports collapses at his desk or on a sofa. "I'd much rather sleep next to my wife than on a couch in my office," Palmer said. Unfortunately for Donna Palmer, she's probably going to see a lot less of her husband now that he's head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Palmer, who was named the Browns' coach on Thursday, spent the first part of his second day on the job in Florida, saying good-bye to his Jacksonville Jaguars' co-workers. He had hoped to clean out his office, but needing to get back to Cleveland quickly, asked someone else to pack up his things and headed for the airport. Once he arrived in Cleveland, Palmer planned to start working the phones like a telemarketer. He said putting together his coaching staff was his No. 1 priority, and as he learned on Thursday, every second counts. "There are a lot of teams signing guys pretty quickly," he said. "I talked to a guy on the phone and he had just accepted a job. I missed him by two minutes." The list of available quality assistant coaches with NFL experience is pretty short, and getting shorter by the minute. Five other teams _ Baltimore, Philadelphia, Seattle, Carolina and Kansas City _ have hired new head coaches in the past two weeks and all are trying to assemble their staffs. Palmer said he would interview potential assistants over the weekend, and indicated an offensive line coach and a defensive coordinator would be the spots he would focus on first. "The chemistry of the staff is very, very important," he said. "There are several guys who have to make a decision by Monday and we want to be part of that and give them a chance to see what we have in Cleveland." What the Browns have in Cleveland is a heavy work load with a team needing to be built _ quickly. So whomever joins Palmer's staff can expect long hours. "We'll be putting in 16- to 18-hour days," Palmer said. "It's going to be a hectic time for us." And it's only going to get crazier. February will be a busy and important month for the Browns, who will build most of their roster through the expansion draft on Feb. 9 and in the free-agent signing period which begins on Feb. 15. After that, there are college scouting combines to attend and mini-camps to run in March; April's NFL college draft in which the Browns hold the No. 1 pick; training camp in July; and the team's first exhibition on Aug. 9 in Canton against the Dallas Cowboys. So much to do, so little time. "I don't think it's difficult," Palmer said. "It's challenging, and as a coach you look for challenges. Everything will work out." Palmer said he doesn't expect his routine to change very much. He still intends to make it home every night. "I'm an early morning person," he said. "I like to get my sleep."

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