Player Notes and Tidbits

One week into training camp and players are emerging, and positional roles are becoming clearer.

Red Zone

Due to struggles in the red zone, head coach Chud and OC Norv Turner have conducted additional film study and practice time to work on the inefficiencies.

Mainly, the QB's are waiting too long to make a decisive decision, enabling DB's to gain position and make plays on passes.

All three QB's (Weeden, Campbell and Hoyer) have been responsible for numerous missed opportunities and turnovers in the red zone.


DE Desmond Bryant has been workmanlike in camp sessions to date. Bryant has struggled with back spasms, which the Browns staff is letting the player work through.

Along with NT Phil Taylor, Bryant has kicked up his intensity is team drills, creating havoc when at LDE, next to Taylor.

The one-gap scheme installed by DC Ray Horton has linemen penetrating and showing success with run blitz packages.


NT Phil Taylor has been active and physical in camp sessions over the past few days.

Taylor has turned up the effort and in-turn, has had numerous battles with C Alex Mack.

Mack has been more physical in camp, as the line seeks to be increasingly physical. The head-to-head battles between Taylor and Mack have evolved, with each getting the better of the other in heated, after play activities.

Each player has shown a nasty streak rarely viewed in the past from either player.


ILB L.J. Fort has performed sufficiently in camp sessions and looks better on the practice field than does 2012 draft selection, James-Michael Johnson.

Fort, one of the surprises of the 2012 Browns season is above average against the run and has a nose for the ball.

While not displaying the quickness DC Ray Horton prefers, Fort is an intelligent ILB that is physical and lay a helmet on a ball carrier.


OLB Jabaal Sheard is making a relative seamless transition to the OLB spot. The former DE has been very good as a pass rusher in camp sessions, while displaying continuous improvement against the run and in his drops.

Sheard was penciled in as the early starter at OLB despite the limited exposure and he hasn't disappointed in camp.

The Browns want to see Sheard continue to work and improve his coverage skills, as the veteran has faced some struggles with quicker backs and TE's in space.


Rookie Bark Mingo continues to flash his tremendous athleticism and tireless motor.

Mingo creates pressure due to his explosive quickness and rubber-band type body structure, which enables excellent bend and agility.

The Browns coaching staff has been satisfied in letting Mingo find his way, while slowing incorporating pass rush moves the rookie will require to be successful at this level.

To date, Mingo has fared much better moving forward, rushing the passer as well as playing the run.

In recent sessions Mingo has gained greater depth in his drops, but appears somewhat tentative at times.

Mingo's progress from day-one to today is obvious and the Browns expect the progress to continue throughout camp.

The plan remains for Mingo to be part of a rotation at OLB and pllay DE in certain package groups.

Covering TE's

The Browns offense, inconsistent as it is in camp sessions has done one thing well in practices -- they find the TE's often.

As much as it is a testament to the offense, the QB's and TE's doing a solid job - it also indicates the Browns defense has an issue covering the TE.

It hasn't mattered which group has been on the field. Whether the starting unit, the second or third team, the defensive backs, the safeties and OLB's have struggled in coverage.


Veteran TE Kellen Davis has come on strong following a slow start to camp. Davis was held out of practice early in camp, but is making his presence felt with his great size and blocking ability.

Davis, known for dropping passes during his career (Chicago) has been reliable in camp sessions and is likely to play opposite Jordan Cameron in two TE sets.

QB Play

TheOBR has learned the Browns coaching staff believes Brandon Weeden will excel in the offensive scheme, and have zero reservations about backup Jason Campbell.

Some within the organization believes the team would be best served with Campbell under center, but the decision is being left to the head coach.


TheOBR has learned the Browns have not discussed contracts or extensions with Joe Haden, T.J. Ward or Alex Mack.

The Browns are evaluating the options and will ultimately decide their direction by the end of August.


WR Josh Cooper is having a nondescript training camp.

The young WR is making catches and running adequate routes, but the quality, depth and competition at the WR position forces players to standout and be noticed.

To this point, Cooper has been ordinary.


S Johnson Bademosi continues to receive extended reps and isn't disappointing.

Impressions could lead many to believe due to DB Josh Aubrey getting reps while Tashuan Gipson is out injured that Bademosi is losing ground in the competition to start of play a vital role in the secondary.

To the contrary, Bademosi is right in the middle of the mix and will continue to see meaningful reps in camp sessions and preseason game activity.


Hands down, unless the bottom falls out, veteran CB Chris Owens should be the starter opposite Joe Haden at CB.

Owens is having a very good camp. The Browns aggressive defensive scheme along with subtle changes in fundamentals (footwork and hand-fighting) has elevated the play of the veteran through early camp sessions.

The Browns challenged Owens to be aggressive and play with confidence, the veteran is doing just that.


Rookie CB Leon McFadden, after struggling early in camp sessions has performed better in recently.

The CB has done a better job in battling receivers and isn't being bodied off balls as he was in the initial days of camp. The rookie still will bite on first movement at times and has to experience the speed and quality of the pro game extensively.

McFadden, due to school commitments lost ground on the practice field during the off-season and is slowly getting up to speed.

The rookie was expected to compete and provide depth in the defensive backfield in the 2013 season, which appears to be the direction he is headed at this point in camp.


S T.J. Ward has been battling a little hamstring strain which the Browns have been treating cautiously.

Ward will continue to work on the side and will be evaluated for unlimited practice work early on the week.

DC Ray Horton has been pleased with the skill-set and mentality of Ward, seeing Ward as a fit in his aggressive defensive scheme.

Ward is viewed as a DB that can cover and support the run.

Horton really likes Ward's ability to blitz effectively.


WR David Nelson's knee (coming off ACL surgery) has checked out okay and the WR will be back on the practice field, but limited this week.


DB Josh Aubrey may be the one player which has benefited the most being through the intense, hands-on training of the Browns coaching staff.

Aubrey was a bright-eyed DB with physical talent and athleticism, but did not have a grasp on what playing safety at the professional leval was about.

In OTA's Aubrey worked diligently. In his off-time the young player continued to work tirelessly.

In the Browns OTA session prior to training camp, Aubrey began to flash.

The mental part of the game, the recognition and awareness aspect started catching up to the athleticism and range facets of his skill-set.

In early camp sessions Aubrey performed at an above average level in reps with the second and third units.

When projected starter Tashuan Gibson injured a shoulder last week, Aubrey rose to the occasion and has performed well - well enough that the rookie is receiving more reps than Johnson Bademosi, who entered camp as the perceived competition for the starting safety spot opposite T.J. Ward.

Aubrey has gained reps in Gipson's spot, as well as Ward strong safety position while missing reps due to a hamstring strain.


WR Mike Edwards continues to impress in camp sessions and has been one of the pleasant camp surprises.

From film and workout sessions, the Browns coaching staff knew Edwards was a quick study and could catch the ball, but his vastly improved route running has kept the rookie in the game.

Edwards uses his hands well, catching the ball and battling defenders. His quickness has posed some issues for defensive backs in camp.

Edwards must shine brightly in preseason action, while continuing his strong camp sessions to have a chance to make the 53-player roster. The talent and competition at the WR position is intense in camp.


Rookie Braxston Cave has had some bright moments in camp sessions, but has a long way to go if he is to become a depth lineman for the Browns in the 2013 season.

Cave has battled but has struggled with the large type linemen, especially linemen of physicality. Cave has demonstrated below average lateral movement and gets does not get off the ball with adequate punch.

Unless Cave turns the corner in a significant manner, it's unlikely he will be signed to the practice squad.


OG John Greco has lined-up as the starting LG, as well as getting reps at C behind starter Alex Mack.

Greco is having a solid camp and continues to appear poised to gain the starting LG spot ahead of former starter Jason Pinkston.

With Greco in the line-up, the Browns run-blocking is improved and Greco provides a physical, tough influence.

In camp sessions Greco's pass blocking has been adequate, as he plays the inside rush better than the outside shoulder -- which has been modestly improving as the Browns offense and offensive line get acclimated to the new defensive scheme and pressure.


As noted in our player notes previously, RB/FB Chris Ogbonnaya appears to be a keeper.

Ogbonnaya continues to be a jack of all trades and a player the coaching staff has a very good appreciation for.

Ogbonnaya has been productive as a RB for the Browns and is filling the role of FB in OC Norv Turner offensive scheme.

Due to the offense not requiring a traditional type FB, the physical and solid blocking Ogbonnaya has a very good opportunity to fill this role for the Browns, as he has been in camp setting as the #1 FB on the depth chart.


RB Dion Lewis continues to impress coming out of the backfield in the passing game. The short in stature RB has displayed determination and ability in the running game, but his greatest asset to the Browns is coming out of the backfield.

Barring something dramatic, Lewis is going to be on the opening day roster, the question is in what role, as he can also return kicks and play special teams.


Montario Hardesty entered camp as the backup to Richardson and is struggling to remain in that role.

A hamstring injury has hampered Hardesty throughout the early portion of camp, proving Dion Lewis and Brandon Jackson additional opportunities in drills.

The Browns coaching staff likes the change of pace Hardesty could provide if healthy -- as his quickness and extremely quick hitting the hole provides opportunity for big plays in the running game.


The RB has been having a very strong camp prior to getting a significant kick to the shin late in the week.

The Browns coaching staff has been extremely pleased with the power, quickness and toughness Richardson runs with. It has been noted he is quicker getting to the line of scrimmage and running with authority and vision.

Richardson's injury is not deemed serious and the Browns intend on being cautious with the RB, as the goal is to have him 100% for the first time in regular season games conditions for the first time since drafting him in 2012.

The second-year RB is questionable for the preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams on Thursday.


Brian Hoyer, a favorite of general manager Mike Lombardi has battled inconsistency throughout the early stages of camp.

Some of the issue relates to Hoyer working more with the younger, inexperienced receivers in camp, though the young veteran signal-caller has to do a better job in making quick decisions and get the ball out of the pocket.

When practicing against better competition in camp, Hoyer generally improves after a few reps, which leads to acknowledging his potential.


Veteran QB Jason Campbell is the clear-cut number-two in training camp. Campbell, as well as QB Brian Hoyer has received a very limited number of reps with the first team.

Campbell, an ultimate professional has steadily improved and gotten himself ready for preseason game action and the Browns are confident the veteran can step-in and lead the team in the event starter Brandon Weeden falters.

Campbell is arguably performing at a rate comparable to the starter and in some cases appears more poised due to experience and familiarity in the type of offense the Browns will run in the 2013 season.


Brandon Weeden continues to be inconsistent in live action sessions.

The second-year QB has had some trouble with his deep ball accuracy, as well as being late on reads in the red-zone.

Weeden's inconsistency is part of an issue the Browns offense is struggling with in camp and there has been signs of improvement.

A aspect of the passing game which Weeden has excelled in recent days is in finding intermediate receivers inside the hash marks. This was an area which Weeden struggled a season ago.

Weeden continues to take nearly every starters rep and the Brwns coaching staff is hopeful the offensve unit will begin to gel in sessions early in the week.

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