As a senior in 2004, Mike started all eleven games at right tackle. He was part of an offensive line that opened holes enabling running back Brett Biggs to rush for 871 yards. Mike also helped protect quarterback Charlie Frye, the Browns' third round pick in this years' draft, as he threw for 2,623 yards for the Zips. He has the ability to play all five offensive line positions.
The Browns gave him a chance to continue his playing career in Northeast Ohio when they asked him to take part in their Rookie Camp in early May. Mike was gracious enough to share with Bernie's Insiders what that experience was like.
Dale: You played right tackle for Akron. Did the Browns want you to compete at tackle or guard or both?
Mike: Actually, the Browns had me listed as the only center in camp and that was all that I played. I did a few drills at right tackle, but it was center for team and everything else.
Dale: When was the last time you practiced at center?
Mike: I also thought the Browns would want me at tackle or guard, but Charlie Frye informed me about a week before camp that they were going to use me at center. So I got a little preparation before hand. I also played center the first two years at Akron so I was comfortable with it.
Dale: Having Frye take some of the snaps had to help your comfort level?
Mike: Oh, yeah.
Dale: Do you think only getting reps at center hurt your chances of sticking?
Mike: Not at all, I think it showed my versatility.
Dale: You went through four practices in this process. Can you take me through each one?
Mike: All four were exactly the same, each one hour in duration. With a 10 minute warm up stretch, 35 minutes of individual time with Coach Davidson where we did 10 minutes of running drills, 10 minutes of passing drills, and 15 minutes of play review. We ended with 15 minutes of team at the end.
Dale: Were there anyone from the Browns' front office present at any of the practices or meetings?
Mike: Yes, Randy Lerner and Phil Savage were there for every practice.
Dale: Was there position meetings or film study in between?
Mike: Yes, the only time we had off was for lunch and dinner, then it was practice, meetings, or film.
Dale: Was there homework?
Mike: Not really, just to study the plays that were installed for the next practice.
Dale: Were there many differences between the techniques you had previously learned and what was being coached by the Browns?
Mike: There were really no differences at all, it was the same deal just at a very high pace and tempo.
Dale: Did the coaches keep it pretty basic?
Mike: Yes it was pretty basic, we only had about nine plays in.
Dale: Was the terminology easy or difficult to grasp?
Mike: Easy, I was used to it from college, it all matched pretty well.
Dale: What was your impression of Offensive Line Coach Jeff Davidson?
Mike: Good impression He is a real intense go-getter type of coach.
Dale: What about Offensive Coordinator Maurice Carthon?
Mike: The same, intense, serious, go-getter, no nonsense type of coach.
Dale: Did any other coach impress you?
Mike: Yes, Strength and Conditioning Coach John Lott. He's out there, right on the edge. He will get the team ready for the season.
Dale: Can you shed any insight to the fans on what type of offense they can expect to see from the team next year?
Mike: It should be a mix of run and pass with the chance of a high power attack.
Dale: Can you put percentages on run and pass?
Mike: It is hard to put a percentage on it because we only put in 9 to 11 plays a practice. It should be real close to 50/50.
Dale: When you say high power attack are you referring to being able to make the big play?
Dale: During Rookie Camp were there any players that wowed you?
Mike: There was one guy who impressed me when I went against him and it was J'vonne Parker from Rutgers. (Parker is presently on the Browns' roster)
Dale: I have to ask you, is Charlie Frye the real deal?
Mike: Definitely. There were times in college when I wanted to stop blocking for him and just turn around and watch.
Dale: How did you learn that you did not make the team?
Mike: After Sunday's practice, one of the Browns' personal told me thank you but we are not going to keep you. I am not sure who he was though.
Dale: Did the Browns give you any indication that they might be interested in resigning you at a later date?
Mike: Yes, Coach Davidson spoke with my agent, he told him I was a hard worker and a smart player who will be kept on their short list of players to bring back in the future. It's just up in the air.Dale: How did your friends and family react when they heard that you didn't make the team?
Mike: Well, when the Bears released my brother my mother was pretty upset with them. But when I told my dad that the Browns didn't keep me on he said, "If it's for the good of the Browns I'm OK with it."
Dale: How did you take it?
Mike: I was upset initially but I was alright by Monday. I'll just continue to work hard and prepare for my next opportunity.
Dale: Are you glad that you took part in the Browns' Rookie Camp?
Mike: Yes, I was living out a life long dream of being a Cleveland Brown.
Dale: What did you learn from the experience?
Mike: The NFL is a very rough business.
Dale: What are your plans for the future?
Mike: My plans for the future are just to continue to work out and improve on my football skills hoping that an opportunity will come my way down the road.
Dale: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Barry has extended you an open invitation to drop in and talk football anytime with Bernie's Insiders.
Mike: No problem. I would be willing to talk football with Bernie's Insiders, in fact my dad has been looking over the site for a few years now.
Mike let us share in his dream come true. It was only for four days, but it will be four days he will remember for a lifetime. Hopefully his dream won't end here... all of us at BerniesInsiders.com are hoping that Mike will get a chance to put that orange helmet on again.