Two training camp sessions are in the book and some players have shined, others have shown inconsistency, while we won’t really know about the balance until the pads go on and the hitting commences.
Players can look good in practice when running around in shorts and helmets, the real deal begins when linemen start tussling in the trenches, receivers have to deal with hitting hit and the quarterbacks will face true pressure.
While the defense will not be permitted to be in ‘full-go’ hitting mode, we will see the physical aspect of the game playing a role in productivity, player assessment and development.
- TE Jordan Cameron is going to get a huge pay-day. Cameron has come into his own, is a great fit for this Browns offensive scheme and he is going to be a focal point in the Cleveland offense. Two sessions in camp and Cameron looks to be in mid-season form.
- With impending doom expected in the Josh Gordon case with the league, the Browns staff has made it a point to work the young receivers, especially on Sunday. Reps for the youth far surpassed those provided to veterans Miles Austin and Nate Burleson and the results were promising.
- While veteran WR Miles Austin continues to impress, two young WR’s and a 31-year old have caught the eye of the coaching staff during two training camp practice sessions.
Rookie Willie Snead and Charles Johnson (ACL) have been are pleasant surprises early in camp. Snead flashed during rookie camp as well as OTA and mini-camp sessions earlier in the summer and he has elevated his game over the first two days of training camp.
Snead is proving to be sure-handed, runs good routes and shows a knack of separating from a defender.
The Browns have been very intrigued with Johnson and were impressed with his work ethic as he rehabbed from ACL surgery. Johnson has been dedicated to the weight room and is in close to one-hundred percent.
Johnson’s play at the collegiate level impressed the Browns staff during film study to gain a better perspective of what he may offer.
Through two practice sessions, Johnson has impressed the Browns offensive coaches with his solid route running, using his size and going after the ball. Johnson has caught everything thrown his way (that was on target) and has shown no ill-effect coming off of knee surgery.
While Snead and Johnson have surprised, WR Anthony Armstrong has been productive from the moment he arrived in Cleveland.
Armstrong has excellent straight-line speed and it has been on display. During OTA and mini-camp sessions Armstrong showed the ability to stretch the field and make plays. In training camp, Armstrong has continued along this path, again on Sunday hauling in another deep pass, beating CB Joe Haden and FS Tashaun Gipson in coverage.
- Practice on Sunday was night and day for QB Brian Hoyer. Hoyer was sharp from the onset. Making quick, decisive reads and throwing with accuracy, Hoyer was spot-on in drills and appeared much more comfortable and confident. Whether he was throwing a slant, seam or post, Hoyer displayed excellent mechanics, vision and arm strength.
- To put it mildly, rookie QB Johnny Manziel had a rough day on Sunday. Manziel was late on many reads and was wildly inaccurate (high and low). Manziel made some good throws and expect Manziel to bounce back quickly, but Manziel is going to have these types of days in this, his rookie campaign.
- Through two days on the field, second-year OLB Barkevious Mingo looks like a new man. Mingo is displaying the ability make consistent drops in coverage, while maintaining edge integrity while being disruptive at the point.
- Due to the lack of true battle due to working without pads, gaining a true perspective of how well linemen are progressing is lacking. You need to see players in combat to get an appreciation as to the development.
We’ll get further into the offensive and defensive linemen, as well as RB’s, LB’s and DB’s in the coming days when camp sessions heat-up.
- From a couple practice sessions, we have learned rookie LB Chris Kirksey can run sideline to sideline and possesses quickness. What we will learn in the coming days is whether he can get off a block efficiently. Through two days, Kirksey looks to have the ability to start next to veteran Karlos Dansby.
- First round draft selection, CB Justin Gilbert has looked solid in camp sessions, despite having issues with his footing on Saturday. Gilbert will ultimately compete with CB Buster Skrine for the starting role opposite CB Jope Haden. Through two camp sessions, Skrine has been with the starting unit and has performed well. This is a battle that could come down to the wire in camp. Skrine has slid inside when the Browns defense features he, Haden and Gilbert on the field at the same time.
- With the players in pads starting Monday, it will be interesting to see how well receivers will run routes and catch passes knowing there could be a Donte Whitner readying to lower the boom.
The running game will be an aspect to watch closely. The line-play and support roles will be kicked up a notch with the pads on. Running backs will run with increased authority, linebackers and defensive backs will come up in support, making for an opportunity to make a statement.
Under a controlled pass rush, but a pass rush/pressure nonetheless, will we see a patient Johnny Manziel or a Johnny Manziel that has made his name due to athleticism and an uncanny knack to make things happen on the playing field?