Five days into training camp, the defense is ahead of the offense on the practice field, as the Browns training camp sessions have been an up and down affair for Rob Chudzinski's Browns.
Inconsistency reigns, though the Browns offense has gained ground against an aggressive and quick defense under defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
Horton promised aggression, activity and quickness when joining the Browns this off-season.
Horton's group hasn't disappointed.
The days of the Cleveland defense being rather slow, methodical and predictable appear to be a long lost thought. Horton's group has been flying to the ball and attacking from nearly conceivable spot on the practice field.
All from a defense which isn't close to being fully installed - much to the chagrin of offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
Turner has early and often barked words of encouragement, relayed thoughts of relative disgust and at times appears confused at what his quarterbacks are looking at on the practice field.
While the perception may be the offense and its skill players, such as QB Brandon Weeden are struggling, the reality is the offense has had some stellar moments as well as periods of indecision.
Weeden as has the other QB's in camp (Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer) have had their fair share of camp practice session struggles. This is in part due to a defense grasping the new scheme, while the offense as expected is taking longer to gel.
Through five days of training camp sessions the offense is improving, gaining consistency and making fewer errors.
And….."What We've Been Told" –
- The Browns offensive coaching staff, as well as Chudzinski is satisfied to date with the performance of QB Brandon Weeden.
Weeden has looked sharp at times, while at others he has held the ball too long and made questionable decisions. The important story to date is Weeden is getting into his drops quicker, getting the ball out of the pocket faster and throwing the ball with confidence.
- WR Josh Gordon came up lame following a little verbal confrontation with a member of the coaching staff, after the player wasn't giving full effort.
Now, Gordon is said to be suffering from patellar tendinitis and is working individually.
Gordon's history of issues has pushed the Browns organization to the brink and this latest incident is being watched very closely.
- TE Jordan Cameron has come on after having a rough first couple days in sessions.
Cameron struggled with his route-running and schematic responsibilities early in camp, but has come on strong in recent practices, making numerous plays and appearing to have settled in.
- Whereas Cameron is believed to be the front-runner at the TE position, Gary Barnidge has been steady and consistent in the early going.
Barnidge has displayed better than adequate quickness and receiving skills, while being an asset in the blocking scheme.
- It's early in the camp process and clarity at the RB position has yet to materialize.
Trent Richardson is entrenched as the starter with the roles behind the 2012 first round draft selection undetermined, but interesting developments could be in the offing.
Dion Lewis has impressed with his ability to be a receiver coming out of the backfield, especially in a third down role. Lewis has also shown the ability and toughness to stick the ball between the tackles.
Veteran Chris Ogbonnaya, a jack of all trades in the backfield could become more of a factor in the fullback type role. Ogbonnaya has displayed the ability to fill-in at RB when necessary and is an above average blocker and receiver.
- Montario Hardesty has worked diligently to be a factor in training camp and become the primary backup to Richardson, but again injury has slowed the RB in his tracks.
Hardesty is nursing a hamstring strain which has provides additional reps for the likes of Lewis, Ogbonnaya and veteran Brandon Jackson.
The clock is ticking on Hardesty.
- S Tashuan Gipson, injured in a collision (shoulder) with WR Josh Gordon has been chomping at the bit to get back on the practice field. Gipson has excelled in Horton's defensive scheme during off-season OTA sessions and hasn't disappointed in training camp sessions.
- Veteran CB Chris Owens is making a strong impression early in camp. The Browns believe Owens is much better served as an outside corner and he hasn't disappointed to date.
Much can change in the upcoming five weeks prior to the start of the season, but through a week of camp Owens is the guy.
- Skrine struggled a season ago when thrust into prominent playing time. Though speedy and quick, Skrine was not fundamentally sound, often caught out of position and forced to grab onto receivers when beaten in coverage.
An off-season later, Skrine has worked on his fundamentals and displays improvement, but can still be too aggressive on first movement which gets him out of position.
Skrine's physical tools make him a legitimate slot CB and where is has been best served practicing in early camp sessions.
- McFadden, a rookie third round selection in 2013 has fallen behind Owens and Skrine.
Despite displaying excellent skills at the collegiate level, McFadden is struggling in drills and has that look of a rookie.
The expectation level for McFadden is continuous improvement as he gains experience against upper-level competition.