The Fast Lane

Getting veteran Nate Burleson and TE Jordon Cameron on the field for the preseason game against the Washington Redskins on August 18th should improve the production.

- The FB in OC Kyle Shanahan’s offense tends to play an important role in the passing game. MarQueis Gray showed in the preseason opener how the TE will be utilized in the Browns offense. Gray often found room in the passing game against the Detroit Lions and could have been targeted a couple additional times if the Browns QB checked into his area.

Additionally, a Cleveland beat-writer incorrectly noted Gray suffered a concussion Saturday in Detroit. Gray has suffered an abdominal pull and could miss a short period of time.

Quote on Gray:

“Gray is an athlete and provides some desirable opportunities for us. He has improved as a blocker and is developing as a pass catcher. Gray isn't a finished product, but one that has demonstrated the ability to improve while he competes.”

- The WR’s did not have a particular good night in the preseason opener. Willie Snead has been good in camp, but dropped a couple passes. Veteran Miles Austin had a nicely thrown deep sideline route bounce off his hands, only to come back and catch a pass on fourth down to keep a drive alive.

Charles Johnson made a couple grabs, one which he utilized blockers well on an inside route. Most everything and everyone outside of Josh Gordon and Andrew Hawkins were nondescript.

A young WR that continues to shine when the opportunity has presented itself has been Taylor Gabriel.

At this point of camp, the Browns WR corps remains a very questionable area for this team and the concern remains whether they have viable talent to overcome a potential suspension of Gordon.

Johnson and Gabriel continued to perform well in camp practice on Monday, with Johnson hauling in a few passes and a touchdown from Manziel in an offensive/defensive drill to see which unit would don the orange jerseys on Tuesday.

Getting veteran Nate Burleson and TE Jordon Cameron on the field for the preseason game against the Washington Redskins on August 18th should improve the production.

Quote on WR’s:

“We need to see some of these guys step-up and grasp the opportunity. We’ve seen guys like Snead and Johnson make plays in camp, but doing it on a consistent basis is what we need to see. Gabriel is showing us he has excellent quickness and isn’t afraid to go after a ball, he has been intriguing and is having an excellent camp.

Through these camp practices, Miles Austin has been good, he’s a professional and his physical health has been positive. We have been taking time with he and Nate Burleson, both figure at this time to be in the mix heading toward the season.”

“Johnson has done very well, especially coming off the ACL, his route running and hands have been solid, if anything he needs to be more aggressive when he gets the ball in his hands. If he doesn't have an issue, he should make this team.”

“As it stands today, I see Gordon, Austin, Burleson, Hawkins, Benjamin and Johnson making this team – and he don’t know where we stand on Gordon right now and there is a definite case to me made about Gabriel.”

- A season ago the Browns defense was scorched by the lack of quality depth, scheme and an offense which couldn't stay on the field long enough to give the defense a breather. In camp sessions the defense has been aggressive, at times dominating the offense, but on Saturday in Detroit, the Browns defense again struggled to get off the field.

The run defense had issue due to over-pursuit and the pass defense had some issue in the short zones.

In all, not a bad performance, especially for the first time out. The defense was aggressive, there is some developmental talent within the roster, while some names expected to provide impact and consistency for the Browns has two more preseason games to work the kinks out.

- Rookie CB Pierre Desir struggled early in Detroit, but performed better as his reps increased. The moment may have caught up to Desir, who had never played in front of a crowd the size as in Ford Field.

- Rookie ILB Christian Kirksey was solid in Detroit. Kirksey was effective against the pass and was able to get off blocks against the run.

- Craig Robertson got an extended look against the Lions and played well. Robertson drops in pass defense were an improvement over a season ago and he graded average against the run.

- DE John Hughes continued his good camp with a solid outing in Detroit. Hughes has made he gains as a pass rusher and run stopper in time with the Browns and is becoming a dependable player for the Browns.

- DE Armonty Bryant continues to grow as a player. A season ago Bryant was thrust into action due to injuries along the line and performed well at times – he can definitely bring heat off the edge. Now, as we have viewed in camp, Bryant has worked on his ability to seal the edge and stop the run, which he did against the Lions.

- OLB Paul Kruger has become a solid run stopping OLB, but he has yet to display the ability to finish when rushing the QB. A season ago Kruger was able to penetrate, but was unable to get to the QB and the same has been the story in camp.

- OLB Barkevious Mingo may not live up to being the sixth selection in the 2013 draft, but he has showing to be more aware of his defensive responsibilities, is doing a much better job against the run and is generating pressure in Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme.

Quote on the defense:

“Mingo has just touched the surface; we believe he is going to be very productive.”

Jabaal Sheard is going to get much more of a look against Washington, we know what he can do and want to see more of him and Mingo on the field at the same time.”

“The roles inside (ILB) are up in the air following Dansby, Robertson and Kirksey. We may see some of out OLB’s getting reps to get them familiar.”

“Our intent is getting pressure from every conceivable aspect and area within the defense. We won’t sit a guy if he can get it done, just like we won’t simply play a guy significant reps if he can’t get it done. You have to produce.”

Jacobbi McDaniel and Calvin Barnett are interesting young guys that are showing the desire and talent to compete. It will be an interesting couple weeks to see how the depth along the line plays out. We may ultimately see a surprise or two there.”

- Many have been quick to determine that rookie Johnny Manziel has to have pulled even or ahead of Brian Hoyer for the starting QB role due to the rookie getting first team reps in practice.

Manziel had gotten some reps last week in camp and is expected to do so again this week in camp. But, Manziel has to earn and display knowledge of the scheme while taking the opportunity and grasping it. The Browns are intrigued with the development of Manziel; he has grasped opportunities and is becoming a quick study.

Despite displaying some encouraging promise, Manziel has quite a ways to go to be 'the guy'. For Manziel, what he does with the reps is everything and he hasn't disappoint, but he has to take the job and the Browns structure is such that they are readying Hoyer with Manziel having enough rope to take the job.

What we have viewed in c amp is that Manziel is much further along today than he was when camp opened. Though improving by the day, the Browns want to see Manziel get through progressions and gain a comfort in the pocket.

Where Hoyer and Manziel see the field differently is waiting on a play to develop. Hoyer will wait out a route and progress through the options, whereas Manziel has shown a slower rate of progression acknowledgment and pulls the ball down.

The Browns have been somewhat indifferent about the inconsistent practice sessions of Hoyer, especially of late. Where Hoyer has achieved is he is a much more level presence on the field, his consistency is strength, despite wavering of late.

Pettine will not make a decision on the starter in Washington until late in the week after he sees both QB's work this week in practice. While the pressure is on Pettine and his staff to name a starter and prepare for the season, the head coach isn't swayed by what transpires on any given day on the practice field.

Quotes on the QB’s:

- “Us just like all of you are intrigued and excited about Johnny Manziel and what he can do. But unlike many of you, we are also just as excited about Brian Hoyer and what he has done since we came here and where he is today.

There are things that Hoyer does very well, there are things that Manziel does well, each of the guys have their strengths and weaknesses, so it comes down to which guy can lead the team, get us in and out of the huddle and make smart decisions on the field.

Without a doubt, Manziel has progressed plenty since he got here and since camp started and we anticipate he will continue to do so.”

- “If a decision had to be made today, Brian Hoyer would be the starting QB. He has been the better QB in practice, has a better grasp of the offense and the respect of the team.

This isn’t to say Manziel doesn't have a chance, he really does. His progress and development throughout camp has been noticeable and he does things with a flair that is obvious.

Manziel will get more reps with the first team and is likely to see reps with the first team against Washington, what he does with this week in practice will determine how much of a taste he gets.

We encourage the competition; it is bringing out the best in each player, including everyone on this roster.”

Two DB’s not named Joe Haden and Donte Whitner have impressed the Browns coaching staff. Throughout practice sessions and the preseason opener, Josh Aubrey and Jordan Poyer have performed at a high level and the staff is genuinely excited with the quality and depth each player provides.

The Browns staff is high on the quality and depth, which includes the before mentioned Haden and Whitner, along with Tashaun Gipson, Buster Skrine and Justin Gilbert.

Within training camp Poyer and Aubrey have displayed the ability to step-in to various roles and perform at a high level, which again was the case in Detroit Saturday night against the Lions.

Quote on Poyer and Aubrey:

“Poyer has looked good, very good and his time in the line-up while Gipson was out proved to us he is very capable. When you watch him, he is very reactionary, runs well, takes good angles and will hit you.”

“Aubrey has had a good camp in the opportunities he has had. With Haden, Buster (Skrine) and Gilbert working at a high level, sometimes a player like Aubrey gets lost in the shuffle. We are aware of him and what makes his case even stronger, he is a great special team’s player.”

The Browns first team offensive line has shown steady improvement over the past week adapting to the zone blocking scheme being incorporated by the Browns for the 2014 season.

While elements of zone blocking are evident in nearly every blocking scheme across the league, the zone scheme isn't something new to many offensive linemen across the league, as many players have played in zone schemes to an extent since high school football days.

(LT) Joe Thomas and (C) Alex Mack have made a seamless transition, rookie (LG) Joel Bitonio has been very good in camp and had a strong showing against the Lions. (RG) John Greco was above average and expect him to improve as he gets reps after missing the start of camp and (RT) Mitchell Schwartz has benefited from the scheme change.

The performance by the second team offensive line wasn't pretty and I sense the Browns are not finished addressing the depth. Garrett Gilkey was average; Paul McQuistan was up and down, while Martin Wallace, Keavon Milton and Jeremiah Warren were downright scary at times.


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