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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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Defensive Matchups to Watch

Defensive Matchups to Watch

Intriguing Battles on the Defensive Side:  Cleveland Browns Training Camp

In addition to his hard nose (and that’s putting it lightly) mentality, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will have to monitor a handful of interesting match-ups among potential starters for the Cleveland Browns.  Being in the business for so long – Williams will be able to identify the right guy; what I would like to see is the coach getting the most of each of the athletes competing for a starting gig.

Logjam at Defensive Tackle

This refers to the three technique spot in the defensive line.  Assuming that Danny Shelton mans the zero/one technique role, and the Emmanuel Ogbah and Myles Garrett are the men on the edge – that leaves one spot remaining for the defensive line.  Desmond Bryant, Jamie Meder, Larry Ogunjobi, Caleb Brantley, and Carl Nassib could each be the missing link for this unit.  This is easily the most interesting position group to see who emerges from the Browns.  Bryant should be the front runner, but I would not sleep on one of the youngsters.  Meder has filled a role in run support, but perhaps his new contract has made him a bit more eager to improve as a player overall.

Third Linebacker

People have penned Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey as bona-fide linebackers who should be on the field a majority of the snaps during the upcoming question.  With the recent trade of Demario Davis, the question that comes is – who will be the third linebacker?  In addition, will the Browns utilize Nickel and Dime packages (with an additional secondary member or two on the field and one fewer linebacker) instead?  I would not be surprised with the latter, as the NFL has become a pass-heavy league over the years.  As far as the linebackers are concerned, Tank Carder and Dominique Alexander are two viable options, while second year pro Joe Schobert will get a shot.  I am intrigued with Alexander and Schobert and hope one impresses in training camp.  One thing is certain, the Browns desperately need a reliable guy outside of Collins and Kirksey.

Who Plays Safety

Ibrabheim Campbell, Trey Caldwell, Calvin Pryor, and Jabril Peppers are just four of the names who could possibly sew up roles for the safety spots in the orange and brown.  Toss in a Jason McCourty, and the Browns could have options in the defensive backfield.  The big issue is that none of these guys have a proven track record in the NFL – including Pryor, who was a former first round selection.  The door is wide open for Peppers to come in a take a job day one.  Like with other areas on this roster, the Browns will need a gigantic improvement in this part of the team before they can have a competitive defense.

Conclusion:  The offense should feature several good battles in training camp, but I am looking more towards the defense.  This unit could be above average in this league, but all hands will have to be on deck.  Additionally, the Browns can either utilize veterans or rookies on their squad – it will be interesting to see who comes out ahead.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2017 in NFL Season, Offseason, Players

 

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Intriguing Battles for the Roster – Offense

Intriguing Battles for the Roster – Offense

Guys to Keep an Eye on Next Month

Well, the Cleveland Browns are not full of Joe Thomases and Joel Bitionios – therefore several positions are up for grabs as the team gets back on the field in Berea in July.  Outside of the obvious (and annual) quarterback derby that has already been underway, there are a few key spots where one guy who can separate himself from the rest of the pack.  Let’s look further into those position groups.

Right Tackle

It appears that Shon Coleman will have the first crack at the starting lineup for the orange and brown.  He is big, mean, and has a solid track record in college; however the second-year athlete has yet to prove he can make it work (consistently) in the NFL.  I have faith that coach Bob Wylie will work his “magic” (pun intended) with the former Auburn star.  Meanwhile Spencer Drango and Cameron Erving are waiting in the wings for their opportunity.  I have mixed feelings about Erving, who has been rather underwhelming since joining the team.  Drango had an up-and-down rookie campaign, but getting another training camp under his belt should help his progress.

Tight End

The release of veteran Gary Barnidge opens the door completely for a guy or two to secure the starting position.  The frontrunners are rookie David Njoku and Seth DeValve, who have been impressing the coaching staff up to this point.  Both are receiving threats but could use some work attempting to develop as a run blocker.  Randall Telfair and maybe a wildcard could earn some playing time; however, I would be surprised if the aforementioned duo does not get the lion’s share of snaps.  The question might be, can DeValve hold off the first round rookie?

Wide Receiver

Under the assumption that Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt remain healthy and play up to their capabilities, the Browns will have their top two wide out options.  That still leaves another athlete or two who the team will be counting on to haul in passes for the franchise.  Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis, and Rannell Hall are three options to fill a void that was missing in 2016.  Like some of the tight ends, a young athlete (Louis) has been garnering solid reviews from his supervisors.  However, I am intrigued to see how Hall bounces back from a promising 2016 exhibition season prior to missing the entire year due to a broken leg.

Conclusion:  There is a long way to go until the regular season kicks off in just over two months.  However, the roster must be settled prior to that point in time.  This would include several competitions at position groups, hopefully with the best man winning the gig.  I would like to believe that these include guys who can play in the NFL and not roles just needing to be filled.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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Updating the Cleveland Browns

Updating the Cleveland Browns

The Latest News Coming from Cleveland

Well, there are other things going on in the world of sports – outside of the NBA Finals.  The Browns are making moves both by acquisition and departure, hopefully they were the correct ones.  Meanwhile, a possible issue could be looming for one of the team’s better players.

The Trade (Heard Round the World?)

I am being a tad facetious when I mention the swapping of underachieving athletes between the Browns and the Jets.  The Browns sent linebacker Demario Davis to his former club and agreed to take Calvin Pryor (the former first round safety from the University of Louisville).  I am hoping that Pryor can fill in at the strong safety role for the orange and brown – while rookie Jabril Peppers plays a hybrid linebacker/safety role.  It’s a boom or bust proposition made by the Brown; a gamble I would prefer over Demario Davis.

Potential Contract Dispute?

It will be interesting to determine whether running back Isaiah Crowell will be on the roster for several more years or just though the 2017 campaign.  The veteran signed a restricted free agent tender a couple months ago, guaranteeing his spot on the club this year.  What will happen after this occurs?  The Browns have Duke Johnson and newly acquired Matthew Dayes to compete at the running back position.  I would venture that the team would add another talented runner to this group if they wanted to get rid of Crowell.  I would prefer the team keeps the veteran on this team, but that is the nature of the business – anywhere the team can upgrade, they should do it.

Latest Release

Before he could even put the pads on and get ready for training camp, Tyvis Powell was let go by the orange and brown.  Personally, I would have liked for him to compete on the gridiron to see what will be the best combination of safeties for this franchise.  However, the team did not agree with me and they will go the other direction.  I sincerely hope that Derrick Kindred and Ed Reynolds step up and provide solid play at that position.  Anything similar to what we saw in 2016 and the Browns are in trouble this fall.

Conclusion:  There were some under the radar rumblings for the Cleveland NFL franchise at this point in the season.  I firmly believe they will be improved from a year ago – but am far from confident that they are making all the correct decisions.  Hopefully the team has taken to the new leadership (especially on defense) and fans will see an up close difference during next month’s practices.

 

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Training Camp and What I Saw – Cleveland Browns

Training Camp and What I Saw – Cleveland Browns

Sight and Sounds from Training Camp

I recently traveled west to Berea and watched the Cleveland Browns training camp practice – for the first time in nine years. During that time frame, the franchise has gone though a number of changes; most notably the countless number of personnel. I would like to believe they are on the path towards greatness in 2016; however there is still a great deal of work that has to be done before success is accomplished. What happened during practice? I’ll fill you in below:

More “Team” Practicing

This relates to witnessing more eleven versus eleven on the football field – it should be fairly obvious, but the best way to get better is to simulate game situations. I understand positional group practicing is important (especially for technique tips and improvements), but going head to head is important. The fact that coach Jackson had multiple situations like this makes me feel a little better about this team’s chances this fall. Hopefully this translates to better learning and execution during games.

Larger Guys

I don’t know if I am getting smaller or if Browns players are getting bigger, but standing up close to a few guys – I have noticed that the Browns have quite a bit of large individuals. Josh Gordon, Terrelle Pryor, and Shon Coleman (to name a few) definitely have the physical abilities to play in the league – it is another story as to whether they can compete each and every play with their counter parts. 

Coaching is Present

In the midst of the day’s first eleven on eleven portion, head coach Hue Jackson (loudly) corrected Cody Kessler under center. While the athlete did not particularly like to hear this, it should set him up for expectations in the future. I believe Jackson can continue to mentor the young guys and work to instill the correct work habits, techniques, and mindset to become excellent football players.

Conclusion: Not surprisingly, the amount of contact was not abundantly clear during the Browns’ training camp I recently went to. However, the drills appear to help with tackling (using an inflatable wheel teaching to wrap up) and other vital skills that appear to be lost in today’s NFL. It’s still too early to make a final prediction for this season’s record – but this remains the optimistic season and Hue Jackson and company at least provide more faith than his last few predecessors.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2016 in NFL Season

 

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The Calm Before the Storm: Cleveland Browns’ News

The Calm Before the Storm:  Cleveland Browns’ News

More News About the Browns 

There are just two more days until the Browns season finally(unofficially) kicks off! A pair of information nuggets surrounding the orange and brown recently came out; how they affect the team remains to be seen however. Hopefully the team was able to upgrade at one position, will they at another very soon?

Nick Hayden Inked

Well the Browns finally picked up a veteran defensive lineman to replace the injured Desmond Bryant. Free agent Nick Hayden was acquired to provide leadership to a young group upfront. He is not known for his pass rushing ability, so he will largely figure to be a factor on early downs. Hopefully he can prevent longer runs by opponents on the edge. I do not anticipate a great deal from Hayden, however (at least) mediocre play while allowing a rookie to come in and take the reins as the five-technique spot (i.e. Carl Nassib) would easily suffice.

That Gordon Guy 

The wide receiver who had a bunch of yardage three years ago (on a bad team) was recently back in the news – by speaking with the commissioner. On Monday, the suspended star was actually be reinstated into the NFL; under the condition he will still be suspended the first four games of the season.  As a Browns’ fan, I am waiting for his next slip and and am ready to move on. Will Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins, and Andrew Hawkins be a feared receiving trio in this league? That is unlikely – especially in 2016 – but one thing is certain; they will be available to play all year long (barring injury). The Browns do not need yet another distraction this upcoming season. Plus isn’t getting kicked out of college, in addition to NFL suspensions in 2013, 2014, and 2015 (and now 2016) enough?  If the Browns can get something in return for the troubled wide out, would be a huge coup (though extremely unlikely).

Third Stringer (or Not?)

A bit has been made about Terrell Watson, the larger running back that coach Hue Jackson signed from his former employer – the Cincinnati Bengals. His upbringing has been documented, being given up by his teenage mother to be raised by his grandparents. It appears that Watson is ok with what happened and persevered though that and with learning disabilities. Last year, the rookie runner was on the practice squad; can he make the leap in 2016? Perhaps his personal over comings can translate onto the football field, but he will have to steal opportunities from either Duke Johnson or Isaiah Crowell. Another option is that he could unseat Malcolm Johnson at the fullback position – while not exactly glamorous, it could lead to the opportunity to stick with an NFL club.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2016 in NFL Season, Training Camp

 

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