Category Archives: Training Camp

News for the Browns: The Latest from Berea

News for the Browns:  The Latest from Berea

Browns Before Camp

The time is finally here; Cleveland Browns’ training camp begins in just one week! Hopefully Hue Jackson can run a tight ship and put the team in the best shape possible prior to week one. The news will continue to ramp up in the near future, however for now we take a look into another blow for the club as well as facing a future Hall of Famer.

Desmond’s Injury

In a similar fate to what happened a few years ago to former Browns defensive lineman Phil Taylor, veteran Desmond Bryant injured his pectoral muscles lifting weights. This led to surgery to repair this injury, which is expected to shelf the lineman for all of 2016 – something the Browns could ill-afford. Guys like Armonty Bryant (after he serves his four-game suspension) and rookie Carl Nassib will have to step up and fill the void at defensive end. I would not be surprised if the team signs another veteran in the next few weeks that could play this position as well. Bryant’s contract with the Browns runs though this season; it will be interesting to see what happens for both sides in February.

Brady’s Opener

This is lesser of a Browns’ story, but it still impacts the franchise headquartered in Berea. Veteran signal caller Tom Brady has finally waived the white flag and has accepted his four-game suspension to begin the regular season. His team then faces the Browns in week five – which will be in Cleveland. Could Brady be rusty and make mistakes allowing the home team pull the upset? Surely, and the quarterback is not getting any younger as well. However, the Patriots have been great since the turn of the century so my faith in the Browns winning this contest is not extremely strong.

Conclusion: As the Republican National Convention leaves town, it’s time to get back to football. The only benefit to an injury this early is that the Browns have time to react and make roster moves to see who can help along the defensive line. Meanwhile, beating the Patriots is no easy chore – facing their quarterback with a chip on his shoulder will not be an advantage for the orange and brown.


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2016 Training Camp: Defensive Competitions

2016 Training Camp: Defensive Competitions

Training Camp Battles:  Defense

In the second part of our two-part series, we switch to the other side of the ball and focus on the defense.  This unit has nowhere to go but up, as they were either ranked last or near last in several categories in 2015.  Thus, the victor in a few competitions for playing time must be head and shoulders above the guy he is replacing from a season ago.

Outside Linebackers:  Armonty Bryant severely cost himself this season, with his four-game suspension to begin this September.  If many guys on the outside linebacker spots perform well in camp, the veteran might be released following his mandated time off.  That said, the Browns have Paul Kruger, Nate Orchard, Barkevious Mingo, and Emmanuel Ogbah as a few worthy members who will man the outside linebacker roles.  Mingo has fallen out of favor (for me and many others), so if the other three can provide a steady rotation – then perhaps this can become a reliable unit for the Browns.

Inside Linebackers:  Christian Kirksey is the lone remaining man in the middle from a season ago.  I would venture to say that he will be a starter once again in 2016, but who will join him?  Free agent acquisition Demario Davis is the likely choice.  Joe Schobert and Scooby Wright will more than likely begin their professional career on special teams (provided they make the final cuts).  However, if one can excel at a single thing (pass coverage, pass rush, etc.), then they might be on the field sooner rather than later.  Justin Tuggle, the free agent pickup appears to be a long shot for playing time.

Safeties:  Turnover was in full force for the safety position after last year’s disappointment.  Ibraheim Campbell is looking to fill the void (left by Whitner and Gipson) at one spot; will Jordan Poyer become the other full-time starter?  Rahim Moore was brought in this offseason – and with his poor 2015 outing, he will have something to prove in Cleveland.  There have also been rumors that former cornerback Pierre Desir could be shuffled to safety this campaign. Coach Horton needs to find guys who can support the run and stay with their man on passing situations (neither of which occurred in 2015).

Defensive Line: John Hughes and Danny Shelton are the favorites as starters for this defensive line.  However, the key decision will be who will be putting in time as a reserve.  Carl Nassib, Jamie Meder, and Xavier Cooper will be attempting to get some opportunities upfront.  I would like to say that the Browns finally have depth at their defensive line – however they must play up to their capabilities in order for this to occur.

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Posted by on July 8, 2016 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp


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2016 Training Camp: Competition Among Teammates – Offense

2016 Training Camp: Competition Among Teammates – Offense

Training Camp Battles: Offense

Well the calendar has flipped, and it is finally July – the same month that training camp starts for the Cleveland Browns!  Granted, it might not commence for several weeks – but it is never too soon to start looking at several position groups that need sorted out before the first regular season game in Philadelphia.  In the first of our two-part series, we take a look into the offensive side of the ball.

Quarterback:  The most important position in football (and probably all of sports) is all but Robert Griffin’s to lose.  Though coach Jackson will not admit to it publicly, he will be the man under center to begin the regular season.  There have been conflicting media reports about Griffin play during minicamp, nonetheless training camp is his time to shine.  I would hope he can separate himself from Josh McCown and rookie Cody Kessler in these practice sessions.  Doing so would help give me a little bit more faith headed into the regular season campaign.  Cody’s time will come, but not in September 2016.

Right Tackle:  The departure of Mitchell Schwartz can either loom largely or not at all over the orange and brown this fall.  That is dependent on the play of his successor; which raises the question, whom will it be?  Alvin Bailey (a veteran) appears to have a leg up over rookies Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman.  However, the youngsters might get their opportunity to unseat Bailey in the starting lineup. One thing is certain – protecting the quarterback and walling off defenders is vital for this offense to have any type of success.

Wide Receiver:  Well, someone’s got to catch the football for this offense.  Veterans Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel will get first crack at fitting into the starting roles – however, their final roster spot is still not guaranteed.  A pair of rookies might be out on the field to start game one – possibly Corey Coleman and Rashard Higgins. Terrelle Pryor has been getting praise from his offensive coaches; it will be very interesting to see where he ends up on the depth chart.

X-Factor:  This can go a myriad of ways.  The first is utilizing Duke Johnson as a slot receiver, while Isaiah Crowell is lined up at running back – giving defenses something to think about.  The second is the capability of Corey Coleman and what kind of spark he can provide to this offense.  Finally, rookie Seth DeValve is a large receiving option and could present mismatches on the field – especially when paired up with Gary Barnidge at tight end.  I am eager to see what Hue has up his sleeve for this offense.

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Posted by on July 1, 2016 in Offseason, Players, Training Camp


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Post OTAs News and Notes for the Browns

Post OTAs News and Notes for the Browns

The Latest from Cleveland

As the stories continue to come out, I continue to delve further into them.  First, the head coach’s philosophies continue to strengthen – to the dismay of some.  Additionally, the Browns can take steps forward this training camp where they previously went backwards. Finally, some guys are meeting up in the west coast during down time.

Hue’s Attitude

I like the way Hue Jackson is throwing caution to the wind regarding practices during training camp, which will include players wearing pads.  Those in analytics (as well as the Ivy League) feel it might not be wise to do this – for fear of injury.  However, Jackson has mentioned being able to take care of his players (and I trust him). Meanwhile, apparently those involved with analytics did not watch the 2015 Cleveland Browns practice and subsequently their regular season. The soft and mushy practices led to several injures (due to being ill-prepared) and being manhandled by stronger and more physical teams.

Meet up in Tampa

Last season, the Browns and the Bills held joint practices and scrimmages in upstate New York.  Things did not go so well for the orange and brown, who gave off an appearance as a high school team rather than a professional one.  That pretty much set the tone for the season and the pathetic results that ensued.  2016 is a chance at redemption, as the Browns will travel to Tampa to join the Buccaneers for a two-day practice session, prior to their exhibition contest.  It goes without saying that the guests need to be the aggressors this time – not to mention the ones who excel.  Will it lead to a 12-4 record this fall?  Unlikely, but I’m tired of the Browns being a joke.

Workouts in Los Angeles

Corey Coleman, Rob Griffin, and Cody Kessler (to name a few) are some of the Browns’ players who are expected to travel west within the next month to work out and prepare for the upcoming NFL season.  It may not be much, but this is yet another example of this team “getting it”, while their predecessors did not.  I hope the rapport being built by this offense carries over, regardless of who is behind center. Pulling in the same direction is vital for the Browns – and signs of this are on display.

Conclusion:  The Browns appear to be righting some of their wrongs from a three-win season a year ago.  I continue to feel confident in my five-to-seven victory prediction for 2016, as training camp should help to solidify this.  Who knows, perhaps Jackson can continue his magic and the Browns have a miraculous season.  Bottom line is that I am not ready to be negative about this team just yet.

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Posted by on June 17, 2016 in Offseason, Training Camp


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The Latest about the Browns – Offseason Edition

The Latest about the Browns – Offseason Edition

Time Before Training Camp

In the throes of the NBA Finals (of which I have little confidence in our Cavs, unfortunately) – the NFL season is coming to a slow time before training camp commences in July. Below is a compilation that has occurred, including an outlook for an underperforming athlete, some goodwill for the orange and brown, and the countdown is on for the season.

Gilbert Given Another Shot

It appears what happened in the past will remain right there – as this coaching staff is all about moving forward with Justin Gilbert. His attitude issues are well documented (and something Gilbert did not want to discuss with the media) – but hopefully the positivity surrounding Hue Jackson and company will lead to a better outlook for the cornerback. Gilbert has the talent and traits to be at least a role player in this defense, but has come to nowhere near his potential. I like the odds of this regime doing something that their predecessors could not – getting production from this first round pick. All said, a shorter leash should be given this training camp should the “old” Gilbert resurface.  At that point, it might be time to relieve him of his duties.

Community Work

The publicity surrounding the orange and brown getting around northeast Ohio and helping others are increasing greatly. Whether it’s improving the assets inside high schools, football facilities, or apparel – players with the Browns doing tremendous work to improve the community. I greatly commend what this front office has preached and the fact the team has followed through. At the end of the day, they might not always be winners in the fall but they are still making northeast Ohio a better place for today’s youth.

Century Mark

Well, we are under 100 days until the Cleveland Browns head to Philadelphia to face the Eagles in the regular season opener. It seems just like yesterday when Jimmy Haslam called a press conference to let everyone know he was blowing things up again. The Browns have a great deal of work in this time frame to go from a perceived “bottom feeder” in the league to a respectable one. Young guys and inexperienced ones must step up and perform when given an opportunity this year. I’m still envisioning a bump in their win total (from 2015) by a few games; however training camp and the preseason could be very telling.

Conclusion: I understand that this the time of year has many positive articles about NFL players – some of which do not come to fruition a few months later. Thus, I am taking the Gilbert news with a grain of salt and he still must prove doubters wrong. I am ready for the hiatus to be complete, but I will have to wait for over a month like everyone else.

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Posted by on June 10, 2016 in Offseason, Players, Training Camp


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What Now for the Browns?

What Now for the Browns?

Latest Updates from Berea

The news cycle continues to go on during this period of OTAs for the Cleveland Browns.  The transactions persist for the team, much to the chagrin of some veterans.  However, when a team laden with older players fails miserably – it should come to no surprise that younger athletes will likely be brought in as replacements the following season. Speaking of which, it would appear that getting to know their predecessors is a good thing for these young men. This is especially the case, as those elder athletes got to the playoffs and performed at a high level game in and game out.

Release of Hartline

Veteran wide receiver Brian Hartline was let go by the Cleveland Browns last week in a move that was not completely surprising. Looking at what the team has been doing over the past few months – youth has been a big factor (especially at skilled positions).  Brian simply did not fit that mold with this team, and the fact that the Browns drafted four wide outs did not help things either.  Could his veteran leadership have helped out the wide receiving unit?  Sure, but more production on the field was needed from the athlete as well.  Like many other guys who are moving on from the orange and brown – I wish him good luck and have no ill will towards the athlete.

Alumni on Hand

It was a solid move to have former players on hand during the OTAs for the Cleveland Browns. Hanford Dixon, Felix Wright, and (gasp) Bernie Kosar were in attendance talking to today’s team. For about thirty-one franchises, doing this is not a big deal and a typical thing done by squads in the NFL. However, it seems to be a problem for the Browns, especially with their frosty relationship with their former quarterback in the 1980s and 90s. Perhaps this is the olive branch that was needed to link the old teams (the ones who actually had success) to the current crop. Will it lead to future success for the orange and brown? Who knows, but I will take whatever positive karma is out there for this club.

Time off for Thomas

The veteran days off for Joe Thomas appear to be a hot button for the Cleveland media. I frankly do not have a problem with it, but I understand where it could cause problems within the locker room.  Face it, everyone would like some time off once in a while.  Maybe if the team is in a playoff push (I understand that’s unlikely, but I can dream) – perhaps Thomas can put on a good face and give his all each and every practice. At the end of the day, having Thomas available and reliable (each game) is what matters for this franchise, however.

Conclusion: It’s almost the down time for the Browns; that period between mini camps and training camps. Hopefully the team is getting up to speed and learning what Hue Jackson is all about. Rookies like Jordan Payton (still in classes) have been hurt by not practicing, but they can still make up for that in the coming months. Not hearing about idiots failing drug tests or going on benders in Las Vegas the next few months will be refreshing this season.

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Posted by on June 3, 2016 in Offseason, Players, Training Camp


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Competitions Among the Browns in Training Camp – Defense

Competitions Among the Browns in Training Camp – Defense

Defensive/Special Teams Top Training Camp Battles

In part two of our series, we continue tobreak down matchups between athletes at the same position spots for the Cleveland Browns.  When camp commences in a few weeks, guys will go all out to prove they are the best man for the job.  Some battles are for a potential starting spot, while others are for a guaranteed place on the roster.  Who are the players that figure into exciting competitions?

Defensive Line:  Phil Taylor vs. Billy Winn vs. Ishmaa’ily Kitchen

The fact that Taylor and Winn are entering their final year of their rookie contracts adds a little spice to this matchup.  Last year, I would have thought that both would be safe and with the team for years to come, but the signing of Randy Starks and drafting of Danny Shelton and Xavier Cooper all but changed that.  Being able to display an ability to play all three positions will be critical for these defensive linemen – as only one guy from this trio might be suiting up for the orange and brown in September.

Linebacker:  Scott Solomon vs. Barkevious Mingo

On the outside, this is a battle of opposites.  On one hand, there is a top-ten draft pick with both a pass rushing ability and a knack for covering opposing receivers.  Mingo’s main downfall has been his injuries and not being able to perform to elevated expectations that come with being a top draft choice.  In the other corner is an undrafted free agent who came out of nowhere to have a few nice games for the Browns in 2014. Solomon entered the team with low expectations and has easily exceeded those.  Not known for his coverage skills, he will be facing an uphill battle against Mingo.  Both should get playing time this season, but only one will be lining up with Paul Kruger in the first quarter – whom will it be?

Safety:  Jordan Poyer vs. Tashaun Gipson

Whilst holding out of minicamp and OTAs, Tashaun Gipson opened an opportunity for others to start at free safety.  The main beneficiary of that was Jordan Poyer, who filled in admirably during the June practices.  Can that continue for the coming months?  I suspect that Gipson will be able to fend off his counterpart for a majority of the year, but if Poyer can prove to be a reliable reserve safety in this defense – that could be a victory in itself.

Cornerback:  Justin Gilbert vs. K’Waun Williams vs. Pierre Desir

It would appear that veterans Joe Haden and Tramon Williams will be holding down the starting (outside) cornerback spots.  Therefore, in order to crack into this lineup – the trio listed above must compete at nickel and dime spots (at least initially).  Gilbert was the early draft pick, while the other two have proven more on the field – despite being taken in the later rounds or not being drafted at all. I anticipate this being the fiercest competition in camp; as the stakes are very high and there is plenty of talent among the three.

Kicker:  Travis Coons vs. Carey Spear vs. Free Agent?

Well, somebody’s got to kick all of those extra points, right?  Both Billy Cundiff and Garrett Hartley are neither on the roster; so a new guy will have to take over in 2015.  Spear is the local kid who provided a few punishing tackles on kickoffs (in college) – other than that I have to admit I am pretty green in terms of knowledge between the duo.  Hopefully one guy can come out in camp, show (near) perfection, and maintain that in the regular season.  It especially won’t be easy during the tail end of the year with the cold, wind, and snow, but the last thing this team needs is another question mark.

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Posted by on July 18, 2015 in NFL Season, Training Camp


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