For the second time today, here is the transcript from Live from Berea, with the usual commentary inserted later in a brown italic font (viewable only by reading this article on BerniesInsiders.com).
8/17/2004 3:53:11 PM: Wow. Sorry I'm late. The parking lot was full... first time I've seen that. They have Boys and Girls Clubs from Cleveland here... the risers are jammed with lots of blue and yellow shirts.
Actually the blue shirts were from Hobart, which is
a school, I'm guessing. Pretty full group of media types reporting on the
8/17/2004 3:55:23 PM: On to football... they are running drills with defenders sprinting downfield and running into linemen holding pads.
This didn't last long, but looked like some sort of practice for breaking up the wedge in kick-off coverage.
8/17/2004 4:01:45 PM: We're into unit drills under the bright sunshine. Folks from the VIP tent are crowding the viewing area, so I'm going to be a snooty media type and go out onto the grass where I can get a better view of RB and line drills.
Getting insights impossible to get on gameday is why training camp just rocks for the hard-core fan, which I was long before I ever did any reporting as part of Bernie's Insiders. You are so close to the action that you can see nuances of the game that are impossible to see on television.
Always look for where the camera lifts are when you go to training camp, as you can be sure that where they intersect is where most of the action is going to be. Camp is only open two more days, Wednesday and Thursday, before Training Camp closes to the public
8/17/2004 4:05:47 PM: Fullback are practicing a blocking drill where they anticipate where to run based on how defenders (played by their fellow RBs) head.
Three of the upside-down garbage cans are placed a couple of feet apart. Two players are behind the cans and will slant either right or left into the gaps. Depending on the assignment, the back either heads to the open area or picks up a player to block.
8/17/2004 4:09:26 PM: Linemen are practicing moving quickly out of a stance where their knees are bent and their arms are on their knees. They practice exploding their arms upward out of the stance.
It reminds me a little bit of drills done in the martial arts where the same sort of blocking move is repeated over and over. The idea is to become instinctive about certain moves so that they can be done without thinking. OL Coach Larry Zierlein spends more time talking one-on-one with players than any other coach here. Other coaches tend to work with groups, shouting things as the players go through drills. Zierlein spends a lot more time, it appears, instructing, rather than drilling.
8/17/2004 4:13:17 PM: James Jackson gets chided a little by Pola as the backs practice blocking. They are working on how to pick up blitzes.
Apparently Jackson got confused on a drill, or asked a question that Pola thought was a good question. He was laughing with Jackson as they walked to work on with other groups.
8/17/2004 4:15:58 PM: The backs finish this and join the other skill players to run a series of passing formations and plays. Now the defense heads over and scrimmaging starts.
The offense spent about five minutes or so with a center, quarterback, and skill positions just lining up in different formations and running plays. A quick way to get quick reps on where to line up, who moves at what time, and so forth.
8/17/2004 4:21:08 PM: First up is a 9 on 9 drill with a center and 2 linemen facing 2 DEs. It's a good opportunity to see individual match-ups between linemen.
8/17/2004 4:24:02 PM: The team is just in shells and shorts. There are all passing plays... no blitzing and the o-linemen usually get the better of it.
8/17/2004 4:28:23 PM: A ball bounces past me on an incomplete, and I demonstrate the unique reaction time which can be compared only to a tree sloth on acid. John Nix has actually looked good on these drills and gets close to the QB.
I really didn't see anyone other than Nix get close to the QB. On one play his fellow lineman tied up two linemen to the left, Nix ignored the lineman on the right and looped around to his left getting past the lineman to get close to Garcia.
That missed pass was my big chance to get involved in the action. I can usually react to some sort of visual stimuli within at least ten minutes. Most watching didn't see my swipe for the ball as it bounced past, as it followed several plays later.
8/17/2004 4:33:23 PM: McCown has been in and he throws a series of nice tight spirals. Bernie talks about the importance of this in his magazine column this month. One of the nice things about putting the magazine together is I get to read this stuff early. Ra!
The next best thing is getting to taunt my friends on the forum about it.
8/17/2004 4:36:01 PM: Running plays tight against the goal line now... full 11 scrimmage.. Henry makes a nice play on a pass... he's looked very good in camp, to me at least...
8/17/2004 4:41:40 PM: Verba is out practicing again, as expected. Williams has nice coverage on Cutt on a long pass.
8/17/2004 4:43:51 PM: Crocker comes in on a safety blitz and DeMar picks him up nicely.
8/17/2004 4:49:02 PM: First team back out... Garcia tosses a perfect strike to Heiden over the outstretched hand of Holdman.
This was a very pretty play. Heiden was downfield about fifteen yards in between the linebackers and defensive backs. Garcia put the ball exactly where it needed to be... any shorter or longer would have resulted in a pick.
8/17/2004 4:52:44 PM: Warren and Griffith blast upfield on a running play and cornered Green, but no tackling...
This wasn't a shot at the Browns defenders... they would have had Green in the backfield if they were allowed to go full-tilt, but they have to hold up.
8/17/2004 5:00:38 PM: McCown to CJ long pass end the work of the third string today... two minute drill now... Garcia throws long and misses Davis... starting at their own 30.
Fans cheer when McCown completes the long pass, and I understand why. I try to ignore that thought in the back of my mind which asks whether it was a good offensive play or a bad defensive play. When one unit shows up the other in practice, it's always hard to know whether to be excited or not. All you can do is judge the play of the team by the intensity of practice and the individual performances you watch. I think most observers felt the team was doing well, which made Saturday night's game all that more surprising.
8/17/2004 5:02:45 PM: Winslow is in on this 2 minute drill as the torch slowly gets passed...
The two minute drill at the end of practice is always fun to watch, and it's also instructive to see who gets involved in which team. Winslow's reps have increased dramatically in the last couple of days.
8/17/2004 5:05:18 PM: 34 seconds left... Ekuban blasts thru and screws up the drive... 8 secs... ball on 45...
The team moves quickly between plays without timeouts, so it's tough to describe what's happening here via pounding away on a cell phone keyboard. Although it hard to tell from these sentence fragments, the drill was very spirited and the offense looked effective moving the ball, but the drive was stopped after about thirty yards.
8/17/2004 5:06:57 PM: Dawson misses a 62 yarder with Frost holding...
Dawson got pretty good leg into it, but it was about 5-10 yards short. It was hard to tell from my vantage point.
8/17/2004 5:10:20 PM: Now the second team gets a shot... drive ends with R Williams picking off Holcomb on the second play.
8/17/2004 5:11:34 PM: Practice ends on that.. talk to ya later!