The first word out of the mouths of rookies at their first mini camp is normally "speed."
Whether they're walking off the campus of Ohio State University or a small college in middle America, the biggest adjustment to the pro game for any rookie involves how fast they can advance from point 'A' to point 'B.' More precisely, the adjustment to the speed of the NFL is what literally separates the men from the boys.
Browns' second-round draft choice Andre Davis might not have to worry about making the adjustment. He has built-in speed that will make the next step in his career easier to handle.
"The speed has been good so far," Davis said after finishing a practice during the Browns mini camp this weekend. "It's really not something that I've been struggling with. Right now the main thing is that I'm trying to get accustomed to the new coaching techniques and kind of erasing all the stuff I learned before."
Davis has everything it takes to become an instant hit with Browns' fans. His punt-return skills will be the first thing they notice, and if all goes as planned he could develop into the big-play receiver that has been missing from the offense.
In addition to the positives that Davis provides on the field is his engaging personality. His smile and upbeat attitude are omnipresent. It translates into a confidence that can only be positive to a receiving corps that has lacked much of that attribute, with the exception of the swagger Kevin Johnson carries with him.
Anything positive that can spark the offense is sorely needed. The Browns were last in the NFL in total offense last year, including a ranking of 28th in passing offense. Most of the success the Browns enjoyed through the air was attributable to the passing combination of Couch to Johnson, who caught 84 passes for 1,097 yards and nine touchdowns.
Next on the statistical chart among receivers was Quincy Morgan, a second-round draft choice in 2001. The knock on Morgan in college was that his hands weren't dependable, and he did little to change that perception as a rookie. Morgan finished last season with 30 catches for 432 yards and two touchdowns.
Competing with Davis and Morgan for playing time with Johnson will be Dennis Northcutt, JaJuan Dawson and Andre King, among others. It's a collection of talent that includes four second-round draft choices (Johnson, Northcutt, Morgan and Davis) and one third-round pick (Dawson).
"I just have to make sure that I don't get too frustrated with things that are going on," Davis said. "I have to take things that are positive and just go out there in each practice and continue to get better."
Davis' first priority is likely to be returning punts, a chore in which he excelled at Virginia Tech. He averaged 13.5 yards per punt return, a number that looks good in comparison to the Browns' 8-yard average of last season.
Still, in the long run, Browns coach Butch Davis is looking for production from the receiver spot from Andre, who played soccer as a kid before his mother allowed him to put on shoulder pads. As Davis embarked upon his first mini camp as a pro, he did so knowing that nothing will be handed to him.
Andre's attitude is similar to the one possessed by first-round choice William Green. Each might be confident in his skill level, but they aren't about to assume anything.
"I'm very determined," Davis said.
The competition will heat up when training camp begins in the third week of July. As the new kid on the scene, the challenge could easily overwhelm Davis, but it doesn't seem to be something that he's losing sleep over.
"It can be (overwhelming). At times you have one of the guys telling you something, and you have the coach telling you to get over here. But I'm having fun with it, and I'm trying to remain patient and continue making the adjustment."