- DL Phil Taylor is back on the practice field and the Browns staff couldn’t be happier. The Browns believe Taylor can be effective within the vast scheme of this defense. Taylor is expected to play the nose, DT along with Ahtyba Rubin is specific package looks and will see reps as a DE.
- WR/KR Travis Benjamin has been a pleasant surprise coming off ACL surgery last year. The Browns staff loves Benjamin’s speed and quickness, as has been on display in the passing game and Benjamin has proven to be very good in the kick return game.
- WR Willie Snead has made such an impression on the Browns staff that he is gaining reps with the first team offense to gauge where he is as an option. Snead is proving to be sure-handed and was given a significant compliment recently by CB Joe Haden regarding Snead’s route=running and physical ability.
- RG John Greco has been splitting reps with the first team offense with second-year lineman Garrett Gilkey. The Browns like Gilkey’s potential and want to continue to evaluate the competition between the two for the next couple weeks.
- As it stands today, Ben Tate is your starting RB, with rookie Terrence West as the #2, while rookie Isaiah Crowell battling Chris Ogbonnaya and Dion Lewis for the #3 RB spot – Crowell appears to be gaining an edge at this point.
- It’s a matter of time before rookie CB Justin Gilbert gains the starting CB spot opposite Haden. Gilbert flashes in nearly every camp session and is gaining more confidence under the close tutelage of DB’s coach Aaron Glenn.
- CB Buster Skrine is having one heck of a camp and the competition between he and Gilbert is only making each player better, as well as pushing the WR’s in camp to perform at a high level. It’s likely Skrine will become a fixture as the 3rd CB, which will place him on the field extensively due to the vast number of three receiver sets a defense faces.
- The Browns staff likes the over the top potential WR Anthony Armstrong provides. A potential roster spot for Armstrong increases if WR Josh Gordon is suspended by the league. If Gordon is not suspended, Armstrong could be released and a receiver of potential and versatility could be kept.
- As media entities such as ESPN, the NFL Network and some in the local media jump all over the Johnny Manziel working with the first team train, so he must be pressing the issue to start. There is a reality within the training camp news that continues to be over exaggerated as well as overlooked.
- The Browns offense has shown signs of life the past couple camp practice sessions. Some of the improvement can be attributed to the QB and receivers gaining a better grasp of the scheme, while the offensive line has started to look better as a functioning unit.
- Many within the Browns organization believe S Jordan Poyer is overlooked.
About Hoyer, Manziel and the 1st team offense BS -
In camps across the country for decades, the top-two QB’s often work with the starting unit. In some camp settings where the entrenched starting QB is in place, this specific player will take almost every rep with the starting unit, with the number-two gaining limited reps. In other situations, the starter, especially one which is in the second-half of his career may get time off during camp, which enables the backup to gain reps.
In Cleveland the situation is up in the air to a point. Brian Hoyer is the starting QB and rightfully so. Hoyer has been the more impressive QB in camp and is respected by the locker room. Manziel has been enabled to compete with the starter and gain valuable experience in doing so and is in the infancy stages of gaining the trust and respect of the Browns locker room.
While Hoyer hasn’t set the practice field afire in sessions, he has been clearly better than Manziel to this point. This isn’t to say Manziel hasn’t improved and had some very good moments, he has, but his inconsistency and struggles in the pocket are issues he will improve upon with each passing day.
To believe Hoyer is a slam-dunk to be under center in the season opener is far from a certainty. The more Hoyer struggles or looks ordinary, the promise and excitement Manziel provides only intrigues the coaching staff to push him along in the developmental process.
The bottom-line is Johnny Manziel is getting reps with the first team because that has been the plan since the coaching staff prepared for training camp. The only question was when it was going to occur.
For development purposes, getting Manziel working with the first team is essential. The young QB needs to face the teeth of the Browns defense, with a belief that Manziel performs at a higher level when under fire, as his natural instincts take over and he plays freely.
The rookie QB has shown enough in drills as the 2nd QB to warrant a step-up to the first team to face better talent, which will provide a value for the Browns to evaluate Manziel.
Manziel has struggled in the pocket and making throws to the left-side of the offense. He is a drastically better as a QB when on the move, Manziel’s athletic ability will keep him moving forward as he gains experience facing the ever-changing looks the defense gives, as well as learning how to manipulate the pocket and speed of the game.
As Manziel learns the hard reality in training camp that he cannot throw the ball up as he did at times in college, he is learning to sit down on his passes, gaining velocity.
For an instinctive player such as Manziel was in college, he has struggled to anticipate where is a receiver will be on any given route. This is an aspect in which the rookie signal-caller clearly trails Hoyer and he should improve in this area with additional camp experience.
The force-feeding has begun for Manziel and the Browns will be smart in how they divide reps for the QB’s. Hoyer will continue to be readied as the starting QB, while Manziel will get looks to evaluate his progress, which should give the coaching staff a clear indication as to whether Manziel should be considered for the starting nod by the third preseason game.
Brian Hoyer is the now for the Browns and Johnny Manziel could be the future, but he’ll have to show he deserves to be ‘the guy’.