Week One of Browns Training Camp: Notes and Observations
After several days of practices (a few including only rookies followed by the entire ninety-man roster), and it’s safe to say that football season is underway! As will be the case during the regular season, it appears that there are already surprises, concerns, highs, and lows. Hopefully the Browns continue with their current strengths and are determined to correct areas that need improvement over the next month.
1) – Veterans arriving early
When I heard that players like Trent Richardson, D’Qwell Jackson, and Brandon Weeden (to name a few) arrived to camp several days early (to when veterans were required to report), my level of confidence within this organization continued to rise. Leadership cannot be undersold; the NFL is a league where guidance by veterans can vastly help the team – especially in tough times throughout the season. Granted, the Browns will likely not have the type of finish to the season as the veteran-laden Ravens did in 2012, but it is comforting to know that the coaching staff are not the only members of the franchise who are educating the younger athletes.
2) – Chud excited
Coaches come in all shapes and sizes – likewise, some are perceived as stoic (i.e. Bill Belichick) while others are “rah-rah” guys (i.e. Pete Carroll). No matter which type of coach the Browns have had since 1999, the leader has had little success and ultimately lost his job. That being said, I enjoyed hearing that Chud came into camp pumped up and waved his arms in order to the crowd to get noisier. It’s no secret he was a fan of the Browns growing up, and it’s apparent he wears his heart on his sleeve. I have faith he will do whatever it takes to be a winner in the NFL – he currently has his dream job. This further cements the notion of the team being more aggressive in 2013 than in years past – it will come down to making the right moves.
3) – Gordon injured? Others stepping up
Second-year pro wide receiver Josh Gordon will already miss the first two outings in the 2013 regular season, due to suspension. However after the first week of practice, he has already sustained a leg cramp and patellar tendinitis – its difficult to determine whether he will have issues staying healthy in the fall but it is a tad concerning that we are hearing this about Gordon already. On the flip side, some in the media speculate that Gordon’s latest injury may be a cover for not hustling – which is even more disappointing. D’Qwell Jackson has already given a talk to the former Baylor wide out (regarding not wasting his opportunity), but if Gordon continues to not be a team player, it could be extremely detrimental to the team. The Browns have not had a ton of success as of late, and a locker room headache is something they can ill-afford.
4) – Largest Attendance in Browns’ Camp History
On Sunday, roughly forty-four hundred members came out to watch the Browns hit the field; the most ever for the franchise. It’s not surprising to see a jump in attendance each time there is a new regime change, but this type of increase was not anticipated. Whether the new ownership, roster turnover, or just a nice day caused crazed Browns fans to want to see their team, many came out in support. This, more than likely, put a smile on the face of Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner, and Alec Scheiner – who are all working together to make the game day experience better and improve ticket sales. The fans will always come to support the Browns, but several victories could go a long way in further enhancing the atmosphere inside First Energy Stadium.
5) – Easing Rookies In
As anticipated, both rookies Barkevious Mingo and Leon McFadden did not begin training camp with the starting units. As the team collects talented athletes, it is expected that veterans hold off rookies for playing time – at least initially. I like the philosophy the coaching staff is employing, one that other regimes did not; making everyone earn their job. I definitely hope both defenders can leapfrog into starting roles, but not before they give the team the best chance to win. It may take spot duty (quarterback rushing situations for Mingo, nickel/dime packages for McFadden) for them to take the field, but dominance can obviously keep them on the gridiron.
There are a lot of moving parts already as the 2013 season opens up, and there will continue to be excitement and worries. Just over a week until the Browns hit the field for the first time against the Rams, hopefully the fans will get a good look of the roster and how they are progressing.