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Category Archives: Training Camp

Pre Training Camp Outlook

Pre Training Camp Outlook

Camp is Here!

The NFL offseason is officially over, as a few teams have already begun 2019 training camp.  The Browns will kick off the start of their campaign on Thursday, and the excitement is palpable.  Judging by the fact the fanbase secured tickets for all available training camp practices (of which I was denied on multiple attempts – but I’m not bitter), as well as snatched up single game regular season seats in a matter of hours – and its obvious that Browns’ fans are ready for football.  But what are we excited about?  How about a little refresher heading into the season.

Youth in the Secondary

The Browns’ first draft selection this spring was cornerback.Greedy Williams.  I highly touted athlete who conceivably dropped in the draft due to physicality concerns.  Fortunately his speed, athleticism, and most importantly ability to cover should make up for his perceived weakness.  Who’s to say he can’t learn this skill at the next level?  One thing Denzel Ward could teach him is to tackle properly while not bite off more than he can chew (i.e. possible injuries attempting to tackler larger players).  That said, I am looking forward to Williams working with Terrance Mitchell, Phillip Gaines, and Ward to solidify the cornerback position.

Knowing One’s Role

It’s been well documented that influx of talent on the offensive side of the football for the Cleveland Browns.  While that is exciting for supporters of the franchise – a big question remains; how will the talent mesh together?  Can Antonio Callaway accept the third receiving spot and improve upon his route running?  Will David Njoku be a forgotten man in the offense, or will he find opportunities as he should present matchup problems versus linebackers/safties?  Then there is the Duke Johnson scenario – a guy doing all he can to get out of town. Provided Drew Rosenhaus cannot work his magic for a trade – Johnson should have a prominent role at the running back position.  He figures to be a receiving option and could be on the field when fellow rusher Nick Chubb is also playing.  What will happen when Kareem Hunt returns from his eight game suspension?  I am not certain how touches will be divvied up, but I think Freddie Kitchens will and anticipate great output at that position group.

Handling Expectations

After the initial wave of enthusiasm for the Cleveland Browns (following free agency and the draft) – some are now ramping up their critiques heading into camp.  The arguments that “these guys haven’t done anything yet” or “they are over their head” could be valid points for some teams, but not this franchise.  The personalities of Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., and Freddie Kitchens are such where they are not intimidated by difficult situations or “big stages”.  The will help other players who are not as equipped with daunting tasks.  I understand that the Browns currently don’t have a track record of sustained success but teams have to start somewhere.  The 2001 Patriots, 1999 Rams, 2013 Seahawks are three examples of teams that came out of nowhere to win a Super Bowl.  Not saying the Browns will accomplish this feat in 2019, but teams can be playoff contenders without following multiple playoff appearances.

Conclusion:  The Browns have a difficult journey ahead; expectations are plentiful and teams will be ready to defeat this “lovable bunch” as this mantra is losing steam by the day (which I am fine with).  I am very eager to see how the season progresses and the players develop into the winter.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2019 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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What to Watch for – Preseason Game #1

What to Watch for – Preseason Game #1

Preseason Game #1 – Browns @ Giants

The time is finally here; the Cleveland Browns are hitting the field and are beginning their exhibition season.  What’s done is done from 2017 and the roster has changed dramatically (thanks to John Dorsey).  The end result is a much improved team who should win games in 2018.  Looking forward to Thursday evening’s contest, what should Browns’ fans look forward to seeing in New Jersey?

Wolfpack and Offensive Line Depth

A few days ago, the Browns shifted former University of Nevada lineman Joel Bitonio from left guard to left tackle.  Meanwhile, his college teammate Austin Corbett fills in the vacated starting position across the line.  Will this be an improvement over an offensive line featuring Shon Coleman at left tackle?  At this point, the coaches believe so.  I want to see the five starters (outside of Kevin Zeitler who will be sidelined for a few weeks) play solidly while protecting Tyrod Taylor.  Meanwhile, having a guy or two stand out in the second team would be welcomed.

Stepping Up without Gordon

The wide receiver room took a shot with the departure of Josh Gordon (and his return time is still not know); in his absence Corey Coleman has elevated with Jarvis Landry in the first team.  This is a huge season for the veteran, who can secure his place with this team with a great year.  Rashard Higgins, Jeff Janis, and Antonio Callaway are a trio of wideouts who can carve out roles with this franchise.  I would love to see Callaway excel and become that third starer, but perhaps Higgins will come through in his third season (the way many are hoping Coleman will).

Secondary Spots

The starting spot opposite Denzel Ward remains up for grabs.  Many felt T.J. Carrie would have been this guy, however he is not playing exceptionally well this training camp.  The opportunity is there for Terrance Mitchell – who was a part-time starter last year in Kansas City.  I would like to see him defend Sterling Shepard for the Giants.  E.J. Gaines is another guy who can have a shot to start – how will he perform?

Conclusion:  Football is back!  And while it is very exciting, there is a ton to sort out for the Cleveland Browns.  Hopefully the starters hold their own in limited time.  Following that, one would expect to see multiple reserves pushing for starting jobs (including Baker Mayfield).  Obviously a win is not important – just look at last season; but avoiding sloppy play would be a good start to the exhibition season.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2018 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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Getting Work Done

Getting Work Done

John Dorsey Putting in Work

The Browns announced a pair of signings earlier this week, which was music to my ears.  Following the overhaul of the roster a few months ago – general manager John Dorsey acquired a solid free agent and re-signed a reliable pass catching running back.  Not to belabor the point (but I will) – I am finally glad to see a front office acquiring and keeping talent as opposed to letting them walk out the door.  Let’s look into these signings a bit more.

Mychael Kendricks

The Browns added a fourth member to the linebacker corps and a good one at that.  Coming off a Super Bowl championship, Kendricks should help this franchise with his pass rushing ability.  I am eager to see how the rotation will go for this unit.  Will the newcomer supplant the team’s lone Pro Bowler from a season ago (in Joe Schobert)?  Could the Browns put all four linebackers on the field at the same time?  One thing is certain – depth was much needed for this group, and it was the only spot of the team that this was previously not the case.  It’s a shame to see Tank Carder being released as a result, as he was a tremendous special teams’ athlete.  However, upgrading the roster is the name of the game.

Duke Johnson

It was announced that running back Duke Johnson signed a three year contract extension, keeping him on the roster in a short-term window.  While the Browns have Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde already in the running back room (a pair of capable backs), nothing is given at this position.  Injuries and underperformance should be accounted for – thus by having three options here, the team is hedging their bets that at least one guy will work out.  Historically, offensive coordinator Todd Haley utilizes a single back a.k.a. “bell cow” in his offense to carry (and catch) the load.  I am not sure this will be the case in 2018, as Johnson ought to be on the field as a receiver, while either Chubb or Hyde will be getting carries.  Whether that is the actual scenario or not, I am excited to see how the team’s offense shakes out.

Conclusion:  The signings continue for the team, and still might not be over (as there is over a month until training camp).  However, the infusion of talent and the reports that the locker room is drastically better than it was a year ago continue to give me faith that I will enjoy games in the fall.  I hope to make it out for camp next month, but more importantly to not hear about player X getting arrested or suspended for something avoidable.

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2018 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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Thoughts Before Monday Night’s Contest

Thoughts Before Monday Night’s Contest

Cleveland Browns:  What is Going on Prior to their Next Game

Last contest was not pretty, but it was a victory for the Browns nonetheless.  Having said that, in addition to some solid plays made by the team – the first half of the contest was less than stellar.  Can this be blamed on poor play by one guy?  Certainly that is not the case, but a handful of guys should be concerned heading into next Monday’s game against the Giants.

Cam’s Gotta Go

Former first round draft pick Cameron Erving simply is not cutting it; no matter which position he is playing on the offensive line – the athlete has been largely underwhelming.  Committing Penalties, allowing defenders to make plays, and not blocking effectively are three areas of Erving’s game that are alarming and will be the reason why he does not make the 2017 roster.  The sooner, the better (in my opinion) would be a good time to let the guy go and provide an opportunity for another youngster along the line.

Wideouts are a Problem

Kenny Britt could not haul in a touchdown grab on three occasions in the first half of last week.  In addition to that, none of the guys were able to get a reasonable amount of separation from the Saints’ defenders.  I was glad to see Ricardo Louis and company get past the sticks and secure a first down grab on a few occasions, but my hopes are not tremendously high for this group.  I hope that Corey Coleman can turn this group around – but they are currently miles from a solid bunch.  The NFL requires more than chain movers.

Kizer Conundrum

It was just one game, but I have all the faith in the world that rookie DeShone Kizer is the best signal caller on the squad.  I still expect that Brock Osweiler (as Kizer’s inexperience will be the reason) will begin the regular season under center – but how long is the huge question.  The first four regular season contests are far from easy, so the change at quarterback to the rookie could still come rather early.  Ideally, Kizer will dominate the remainder of training camp to force Hue Jackson into giving him the nod on September 10th.  As it stands, Jackson has a tough decision on his hands though.

Sharpening that Saw

I was rather unimpressed with the starting defense last Thursday; Garrett Grayson and Chase Daniels are two quarterbacks who should not have any success against your franchise.  Yet that was the case, and reserve running backs played solidly as well against the Browns.  Gregg Williams has got to wake this sleeping giant of a defensive unit (I will give him credit for building the start of a foundation for this), but so far a handful of good plays is all we have seen.  Hopefully they can improve every week as a whole.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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News Before Preseason Game #1

News Before Preseason Game #1

What is Going on Just Before the First Game

There has been multiple practices, as well as an intra-squad scrimmage now for the orange and brown.  In that timeframe several members of this franchise have gone through some highs and lows.  The depth chart of this roster is shuffling and some tough decisions will have to be made soon by Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson.  In the meantime, the team is gearing up for the Saints next Thursday – so what has been going on prior to this meeting?

Myles Ahead of the Reserves

Rookie defensive end Myles Garrett is shooting up the depth chart, as the athlete is now in line for a starting role.  While this was expected, it was good to hear that the number one overall selection is actually earning his spot on this starting unit.  I look forward to him competing against guys with different colored uniforms next Thursday.  Additionally, I am eager to see how this allows Emmanuel Ogbah to play more freely – granted that opportunity might not come until September.

Cody’s Issues

There has been ample coverage by the Browns’s media mentioning that quarterback Cody Kessler is not lighting the world on fire in practice (or the team scrimmage).  The second year pro has allowed himself to be sacked on multiple occasions, as well as missing his targets on occasions.  I would not be surprised to see him third on the depth chart for the signal callers (provided all three guys are kept).  Regardless of who starts, I just would like the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns do well this fall – for a change.

Defense Dominating

Outside of a couple of drives in the first practices of camp, the Browns’ defense is showing their counterparts a thing or two.  Again, this was to be expected – but I would have anticipated a bit more resistance from the offensive unit.  Perhaps one of the quarterbacks will step up, take the starting role, and find his rhythm in this offense.  Thus in turn, he would be able to finally excel against this defense.

Conclusion:  While I will not have an analysis against the Saints in the preseason – I am hoping the Browns get their issues out of the way early.  I want them to avoid sloppy plays and to witness some flashes on both sides of the ball.  Seeing a kicker step up in this game wouldn’t be the worst thing either.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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Early Camp Observations

Early Camp Observations

Cleveland Browns Training Camp – What is Going on

Well, their first few practices did not include the players wearing pads – however that does not mean that a few things did not stand out for the orange and brown.  As expected, there were a handful of guys who excelled on the practice field.  From what I am reading, the team looks vastly improved (both by the size of the athletes, as well as in their play) from the 2016 crew.  Let’s delve further into a few areas of note.

Kizer’s Charge

Understandably, this is a time of the year for very positive (fluff) pieces regarding players on a historically struggling franchise.  Enter rookie signal caller Deshone Kizer – who has been receiving praise on his work ethic and study habits of the game.  He still has a large mountain to climb if he wants to become the Browns starting quarterback, but I like hearing good news about his attitude.  Using the past few campaigns as a guide, he will likely see some playing this fall following injuries at the quarterback position.

Offense Making Plays

Another less than shocking statistic is that the Browns’ offense has been moving the football against their defense.  It is hard to judge how well players are performing without pads, but I am glad to hear that Kenny Britt is trying to have fans forget about that guy who sold trinkets in college for tattoos (I’m not bitter though).  It is expected that veterans are stepping up early, but what about the younger receivers?  Going forward, I hope to read about the strides that Ricaro Louis and Rashard Higgins are making in Berea.

Rookies Making Mistakes

This refers to David Njoku succumbing to a pair of strips by defenders, causing the ball to come loose during practice.  The tight end later went on the Jugs machine and was scolded by Hue Jackson after practice was completed.  I am not surprised to hear about this sort of news – but I would prefer to read about Njoku learning from this and eliminating this from his game.  What kind of mistakes will Myles Garrett, Kizer, and Jabril Peppers make – and just as importantly, will they occur in camp or in the fourth quarter of game in December?

Conclusion:  It is extremely early in the 2017 NFL season, but I am hearing positive stories about the Cleveland Browns.  Obviously, the regular (and possibly post) season will not alway go smoothly – but getting out of the gates will be vital for this franchise.  That comes down to great preparation and practice in July and August.  How will putting on the pads change the team as a whole?  We will find out over the next few days.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2017 in NFL Season, Set Up, Training Camp

 

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Cleveland Browns Training Camp – Things to Keep an Eye on

Cleveland Browns Training Camp – Things to Keep an Eye on

Training Camp 2017 – Cleveland Browns

In just a matter of days now, the orange and brown will put their pads on and head onto the practice field in Berea.  In addition to the many position battles; there is a handful of interesting aspects of this franchise.  Overall, I feel this camp will be much improved from the 2016 one – hopefully that translates into the season.  Let’s look at a few interesting parts of training camp.

Responding to Williams

At this point, Browns’ fans are well aware of new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and what he brings to the table.  However, in addition to the yelling and firing up the unit – it will be fascinating to see how the athletes respond to this much different form of coaching.  I anticipate improved play, as athletes attempt to avoid criticism while getting into Williams’s good graces.  Some guys could get defeated mentally by this; however that could be pretty apparent if an athlete or two are released after having tough practices.

Hold the Peppers?

In this day in age, the holding out of rookie Jabril Peppers is simply asinine – and the safety could enter camp in trouble.  Ed Reynolds, Ibraheim Campbell, and Calvin Pryor will all enjoy their reps with the defensive unit, while the unsigned rookie is sitting and waiting.  While not a murder’s row of NFL-caliber defenders, they will be ahead of Peppers.  As Corey Coleman proved last season, missed time definitely hurts one’s development.  I don’t want it to see that happen two years in a row – but that might be what happens to this franchise.

Which Kind of Experience is Better?

Brock Osweiler is the only quarterback on the Browns’ roster who has earned a victory in the NFL – while making some plays for two other franchise prior to being traded to Cleveland.  Meanwhile, Cody Kessler is the only signal caller who has experienced the tutelage of Hue Jackson firsthand.  Will one of those factors matter in the quarterback derby?  I would like to believe that Osweiler’s multiple seasons in the league makes him significantly better than his two competitors, but this position has been unpredictable for decades now.

Testing Depth

I’m not trying to get ahead of myself, but one could make an argument that the Browns are quietly building depth on both sides of the ball.  Therefore, seeing Williams shuffling defensive linemen around in certain packages should be expected.  If the coach can lock down how to best utilize these athletes now, the defense will be in good shape come September.  Meanwhile, the offensive side of the ball might feature some rotations to determine who can be counted upon in 2017.  Right tackle, wide receiver, and the running back pecking order are a few areas of this team that Jackson and company would like to sort out over the next few weeks.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Players, Training Camp

 

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