BEREA - Some hard hitting by the Cleveland Browns during Tuesday's morning practice made their coach a happy man.
Butch Davis called it "without a doubt the best day of practice for the entire training camp.
"In the morning, during a full-pad, short-yardage and goal-line scrimmage, they were enthusiastic and intense," said Davis.
Among the players Davis praised from the morning were defensive lineman Mark Word, who is show starting to show he can be more than just a pass-rush specialist, and safety Robert Griffith, who is trying to live up to the expectations that followed his signing as a free agent last year.
"The defense made plays," said Davis. "Mark Word stood out in short yardage and goal line ... He is very capable of being a complete player. Last year he was recognized predominantly as a pass rusher. But he is very physical. He has worked hard in the weight room. More than anything he feels a sense of urgency to to be a comlete player and avoid being pigeon holed as a niche player."
Griffith opened eyes with by standing up William Green on a run fill at the goal line in the morning. The veteran safety came to camp determined to living up to high expectations, both with his play on the field and with his leadership off it. So far, it is showing.
"I know he has leadership qualities," said Davis. "He
is vocal, and he has earned the right to be a leader
withhis play in the league. He is starting to be a
little more vocal after practice, talking with players
... Like everyone else, he is working hard, and that
is all I can ask. The true measuring stick of how guys
are playing, though, will be in the scrimmage with
Buffalo and in the preseason games."
ANOTHER CLOSING PICK ... Ben Taylor closed Tuesday's afternoon practice by intercepting a Josh Booty pass in the two-minute drill. It was Taylor's second interception in as many days and his second practice-ending pick of the camp.
"I think (Taylor) is playing very well," said Davis. "I'm pleased with all the young linebackers. I think his recognition is very, very good. He has good instincts and the ability to read and diagnose running plays."
Taylor's interception ended the second of two underwhelming two-minute drills by the Browns offense. Booty and Tim Couch engineered both drives. Both failed to pick up a first down.
Booty's pick came on the third play of the series,
while Couch hooked up with Quincy Morgan on a
fourth-down pass that was short of the stick.
THE COMPETITION IS ON ... First-round pick Jeff Faine worked with the first-team for part of the afternoon practice, allowing Shaun O'Hara to finally get some work at right guard. Faine spent most of the day, however, as the second and third-team center.
Faine's addition should spark the competition at guard.
"The guard competition is very open," said Davis. "Now
with Faine in, we can look at Shaun O'Hara, Paul
Zukauskas, Qasim Mitchell, and Melvin Fowler (at right
guard) ... It is going to be a nock-down, drag-out
FALLING BEHIIND? ... Kelly Holcomb did not get an opportunity to run the two-minute drill at the end of practice, and he struggled a bit during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. So far, Couch appears to be outplaying Holcomb. He is also getting more snaps than Holcomb.
Couch has yet to take a practice session off. But look
for that to change, possibly in the next two days to
keep him fresh for the two days of work with Buffalo
Friday and Saturday.
GETTING A REST ... Several veterans were given a rest
during the afternoon practice. Most of the starting
defensive line did not take part in team drills. At
right tackle, Joaquin Gonzalez spelled Ryan Tucker for
much of the afternoon.
AHEAD OF SCHEDULE ... Courtney Brown is doing a bit more than the Browns expected at this stage of camp.
"He is slightly ahead of schedule, but he is still only practicing once a day," said Davis.
The once-a-day schedule will be the norm for Brown this season.
Brown is participating in some full-speed drills and
many of the team drills. He is still held out whehen
there is more than average contact, to avoid collision
with adjacent players.
WHITE STILL OUT ... Jamel White has been cleared to return to practice by team doctors, but Davis is allowing the running back to stay out until the cobwebs have completely cleared.
White took two hard hits to the head in consecutive practices last week.
"He will stay out until he feels comfortable," said Davis. "The doctors have deamed him healthy ... but he still suffers a little bit with headaches."