The Browns recent three-day mini-camp gave the coaching staff one last look at the players on the field before leading into training camp in late July.
Burning images of Robert Griffith grasping his position with his new team, rookie outside linebacker Ben Taylor looking like an old pro and Jamir Miller showing up for the mandatory camp were just a few of the noted sights.
There were other sites to behold during the mini-camp, rookie receiver Andre Davis continuing to wow the coaching staff and teammates with his great cutting ability, speed and receiving skills. Talk has been of Davis having the opportunity to step-up and being the number three receiver on this team in 2002. Lets not forget the team has only done through a couple mini-camps and quarterback school, when the pads go on and the hitting begins, the cream usually rises to the top.
Remember, Dennis Northcutt looked like an all-world receiver during the mini-camp stage last season.
For players like defensive tackle Orpheus Roye and Tre' Johnson, the recent mini-camp gave these two veterans the stage to show a renewed vigor for the game. Injuries have robbed both players of playing consistently at a high level. In the case of Johnson, he is in much better shape now than he was at any time in 2001.
To think that the Browns offense won't improve in 2002, don't. The offensive line, while not practicing in hitting conditions continues to be a bright area for this team. Added depth and development on the roster has many believing that this sore area over the past three seasons will turn the corner.
The acquisition of Barry Stokes provides the team with an experienced lineman that is versatile and should solidify the left-side of the Browns offensive line, pairing with left tackle Ross Verba. The addition of right tackle Ryan Tucker could spell the inconsistent play from the position. Tucker, a big, physical player is strong at the point of attack and has looked very good in drills, according to teammates.
The development of Shaun O'Hara, Paul Zukauskas and Brad Bedell has the coaching staff in a much more comfortable position heading into training camp in 2002. All three players have seen time with the first-string offensive line.
If the future didn't appear bright already, early indications have been that rookie offensive linemen Melvin Fowler and Joaquin Gonzalez have progressed nicely according to a team source.
"Fowler has been everything that we anticipated when we drafted him and more. He has the ability to step in and compete right away and has proven that he is versatile," the source said. "Joaquin is a hard worker and studies the game, he gives everything he has and picks up quickly on instructions."
"I expect both of these guys to make the roster, but there is going to be some serious competition."
If there has been one player has benefited from the addition and development of quality players surrounding him, that is Dave Wohlabaugh, sources tell this column.
"Wohlabaugh has been here (Berea) a lot working out, he looks great and has mentioned that this is the best shape he has ever been in, " the source said. "The offensive line has been a revolving door since 1999 and Dave has been the one constant. There hasn't been any consistency or familiarity to work with."
"You can have a strong players along the line, but if they are not on the same page or haven't player together for any length of time, they will not play as a unit. This is something that has happened with the Browns over the past three years."
Jamir-Watch: Reactions have been mixed as to the thoughts and intentions of the Browns in regards to the status of linebacker Jamir Miller. Coming off an all-pro season, Miller is seeking a new contract to merit him for his outstanding season. Initial reports had Miller seeking a deal that would pay him over five-million dollars a season with a signing bonus of 12-million dollars.
Indications recently may prove that Miller has backed off that substancial demand made by his agent, David Dunn. Dunn wasn't available for comment. Listening to the noise coming from Berea, the Browns may look to do something with Miller, but do not expect his 2002 salary to change.
Brief-Commentary: It was not so long ago that Miller was looking for a place to play. He desperately wanted out of Arizona and was not a top-draw on the open market due to some questionable occurances. The Browns took a chance on the player, signed him to a deal, then resigned him to a deal that paid him extremely well. Strap the helmet on Jamir and play! You have talked about this being a team, a team game, act like a leader and lead by example.
KJ Contract: Downright scary could be the only way to describe the numbers that we are hearing in regards to Kevin Johnson's contract demands. Sources tell us that KJ is looking for a six-year deal that wil pay him five-million dollars a season with a signing bonus of at least eight-million dollars.
Brief-Commentary: KJ has basically been the Browns lone offensive threat since 1999, he has grown and stepped up to the plate. He should be rewarded for his play, he has earned a big-deal, but the numbers that have been thrown around make it unlikely to happen in Cleveland.
Sightings: It was nice to see many Browns from the past at the reception for the Bernie Kosar Charity Golf Outing, Friday night at the Tanglewood Country Club.
Roaming throughout the evening talking with those who attended were Robert Jackson, Dick Ambrose, Herman Fontenot, Tim Manoa, Reggie Langhorne, Eddie Johnson and Bernie Kosar.
Speaking of Eddie Johnson! Eddie is looking good and continues to battle his health issues one day at a time. Our prayers are with you Eddie!