Changes Apparent in Monday AM Practice

David Carducci files the first report from this morning's practice, and there are changes happening in Berea. Some juggling is apparent in the depth chart, a couple of new players have joined (or rejoined) the team, and injuries are starting to effect the squad. A whopper of a report from Dave!

BEREA - Look for a surprise or two when the Browns release their first official depth chart later tonight.

One of the changes apparent at training camp Monday morning was at left guard, where second-year lineman Melvin Fowler replaced Barry Stokes with the first team.

The new-look offensive line also included rookie Jeff Faine taking over as the No. 1 center and Shaun O'Hara returning to his old spot right guard.

While Fowler found his first chance with the first-team offense, Stokes said afer practice that he still considers himself the starter.

"In my mind, I'm still going to be (the starter) on opening day," said Stokes. "I have to think that way ... but I just try to go out and play football. But then, I was a starter in my mind even when I was in Detroit (as an undrafted free agent in 1996). "

After spending his six-year NFL career as a journeyman lineman on rosters in Detroit, Jacksonville, Atlanta, St. Louis, Miami, Green Bay and Oakland, Stokes worked harder than he ever has in the offseason to hold onto the starting job he found when he arrived in Cleveland last season.

"I've dropped a little weight (close to eight pounds), and I'm definitely in the best shape of my life," said Stokes. "I had a lot of things going on in the offseason. This is the type of team that goes out and gets after it. So, I thought I should be even more intense and come back in even better shape than last year."

Even with all the hard work, Stokes didn't have a hard time seeing another player in his spot with the first team Monday morning.

"It doesn't bother me," said Stokes. "I just work hard day in and day out and I don't worry about things I have no control over. I just concentrate on being as good a person as I can be ... And as long as I'm playing 100-percent I have no regrets. I have no problem with it."

Shaun O'Hara has been moved back to right guard, and informed us that Faine has taken over the first-team role at center moving forward.

BROWNS SIGNINGS: While the Browns have made no official announcement on his signing, but fullback Kevin McLeod was back with the team Monday morning. McLeod played college ball at Auburn then briefly in the pros with the Buccaneers before coming to camp last year with the Browns.

McLeod was wearing Rod Monroe's No. 48 in practice, meaning Monroe could be headed for another stint on injured reserve. Last week, Monroe re-injured the leg that kept him out all of season.

The Browns also had former Virginia Tech tight end Bob Slowikowski on the practice field Monday morning. Slowikowski was a sixth-round pick fo the Dallas Cowboys in 2002.

SAFETY SITUATION: The Browns have not signed a free agent to help at safety while Robert Griffith's broken index finger heals.

Michael Jameson continues to play strong safety with the first team, while rookie Chris Crocker split time at safety and cornerback Monday morning.

Jameson, who spent most of his first two years with the Browns nursing ankle injuries, is completely healthy for the first time in his career. He has also added some bulk, mostly in his shoulders, to have more of an impact in the running game.

"I watched Ahman Green and Corey Dillon. I saw how those guys run the football, and that told me I had to put on some weight," said Jameson, who has added 10 pounds of muscle since last year. "I guess I did it at the right time."

With his speed, Jameson had always been thought of as more of a free safety, but he has started to feel comfortable at strong safety in the last few days.

"It's not really too different going from free safety to strong safety," said Jameson. "You use the same techniques ... I'm getting comfortable with the run-gap fits and blitz fits.

"I think this is going to be a big year for me. I've been here for three years and I've been hurt for a year and a half of that. I've worked hard in the offseason ... and I'm looking forward to showing some of the things I can do."

Rookie Ricky Sharpe has also played well at safety. During Monday's practice, the rookie free agent from San Diego Sate intercepted by Kelly Holcomb after it tipped off a receiver's hands.

INJURY UPDATES: Courtney Brown did more than he has in any practice this year, participating in full-speed 11-on-11 drills. Brown flashed some speed at left defensive end in beating Jason Jiminez for a sack. On the next play, Brown was driven back several yards by tight end Chad Mustard.

Second-year tackle Joaquin Gonzalez was carted off the field with what appeared to be a lower-leg injury.

Tight end Steve Heiden and wide receiver Andre King returned to practice after missing Saturday's scrimmage with minor injuries.


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