The adrenalin was up just a notch.
The first day of Browns practice at the 2004 Training Camp had its share of rough spots, and was free of the first-round draft choices, but there was a charge in the air that hadn't been present during the team's other off-season practices.
That charge came from the real source of what makes the Cleveland Browns a unique sports franchise: the club's fans.
Perhaps it was the team's more fan-friendly approach to camp, which included a large TV monitor and fan festival at the Baldwin-Wallace. Perhaps it was somewhat closer access to the field than fans had in than past. Perhaps it is a sense on the part of many fans that this Browns football team is better than its 2003 record and the cynical remarks in the national media would make it appear.
Perhaps it was the nice-sized group of hard-core Browns fanatics from BerniesInsiders.com who made the pilgrimage to Berea.
Whatever the cause, the clear effect was that the team and the players fed off of the energy.
"I think I thrive on it", Jeff Garcia told reporters. "It definitely is an energy boost in a lot of ways, being out here and seeing all the fans that have come out to watch practice... It gives me a taste of what it is all about here in Cleveland. I know that this is only the beginning of it and it is only going to get more exciting and crazy in a good way."
The uniqueness of Browns fans can be summarized with this one phrase: "The Chad Mustard Fan Club".
The tight end, who likely finds himself no better than fourth on the team's depth chart, has acquired a vocal group of fans who cheer his every success on the practice field. Sometimes this devotion has a cost to the team's other tight ends, one of who was cursed with a shout of "Chad Mustard would have caught that!" after dropping a pass.
Browns fans. Unique, special, and, after forty years, very deserving of good fortune.
PLAYS OF NOTE:
- The highlight of the day was a sixty-four yard strike from quarterback Jeff Garcia to receiver Andre Davis. Garcia, who has endured some barbs from ex-teammate Terrell Owens, seemed to erase the doubts of onlookers about his long-throwing ability.
- Terrelle Smith made an impression on Earl Little relatively quickly. The fullback ran hard into the Browns starting free safety during drills late in the day, earning some hoots from onlookers.
- Anthony Henry looked good during the first day of practice. The Browns starting corner got his hands onto a few passes and showed good intensity.
- Jeff Garcia and Dennis Northcutt look to have established a quick rhythm. Garcia drew appreciative cheers from the crowd for threading a pass to Northcutt during full-team scrimmages.
- DL Cedric Scott ended practice with a bang, flashing through the team's third-string offensive line and into the backfield before RB Nick Maddox could react. Scott played for the Browns in NFL Europe this spring.
RECOVERY WARD: There were no injuries of note on the practice field today. QB Kelly Holcomb was again throwing the football, which he hadn't done during quarterback schools in May and June. OT Ross Verba was showing no ill effects from his biceps tear, and told us that he wasn't slowed down by it. OT Chuck Klabo is off of crutches and is wearing a knee brace. Sean Jones, Uyi Osunde, and Adimchinobe Echemandu were all at practice, but were not wearing pads and did not participate.
MCCOWN WAITS HIS TURN: Rookie quarterback Luke McCown still looks like he needs to add size to be able to withstand NFL-level pounding, but told reporters that he gained twelve pounds between the end of his senior year and the NFL Combines. McCown noted that he would like to get up to around 215, and commented that Tom Brady and Jake Delhomme were around 205 when they met in the Super Bowl earlier this year.
The Louisiana Tech product referenced his high school offense as being closer
to the Browns approach than the empty backfields he often used in college. While
the rookie doesn't express fear at being thrust into the starting line-up, he
admitted that he had never been a back-up before, and that he expects to be
spending some time watching from the sidelines before he gets his starting
JOTTINGS FROM THE NOTEBOOK
Some other notes and observations from the first day of camp:
- Two players who were longshots at best to make the roster, QB Todd Husak and DL Terrance Chapman, were released by the Browns.
- The Browns will practice in full pads during the morning session on Saturday and will likely wear shoulder pads and helmets in the afternoon, as they will during Sunday's afternoon session.
- There was a brief bit of pushing and shoving during the second hour of practice involving rookie offensive tackle Sterling Harris and linebacker Mason Unck. The altercation quickly died down without become serious.
- Randy Lerner was at training camp again today, as he has been during many of the team's previous practices this season.
- There was the expected amount of first day sloppiness, notably in a couple of missed hand-offs. Lee Suggs was one of the running backs who wound up having to dive after a football.
- The team did show a play where both Green and Suggs were on the field at the same time, as offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie works on ways to integrate two running backs into the offense.
- C.J. Jones continued to display his exciting speed, getting good separation on several pass attempts.
- Butch Davis praised the Browns first group of linebackers, which includes Kevin Bentley and Chaun Thompson, saying that they "really flew fast to the ball"
THE WATERCOOLER REPORT: For camp observations from Browns fans at
today's practice, try the following links: