Good day, Browns Fans!
I had the privilege of making the pilgrimage to Berea to see the intrasquad scrimmage on Monday, July 29. That was all the more fun because I took it in with some of the Bernie's Insiders faithful, including Gary Reents, SoulDawg, Yankee Big Dawg, Lady Dawg, and GDawg, not to mention spending the afternoon with my Dad, something I don't get to do often enough. Thanks everyone for a great afternoon!
The session was some warm-ups followed by a controlled scrimmage, so I won't get fancy here. I'll just give you a few thoughts and observations. The scrimmage starts with the offense on the 30-yard line, 70 yards from paydirt. They run plays as long as they continue to get first downs. If they fail to convert on third down, the ball goes back to the 30 and they start over. I'm going to talk first about players that impressed me, and then about those who didn't. Let me also say that it is hard to watch everything at a live scrimmage, but I came primarily to gauge what the offense could do.
· Jamel White. It starts here. The man made plays. He looked like the hungriest man on the offense. If I had to go from this scrimmage alone, White is my starter, hands down. He made a 22-yard run, caught a 12-yard pass, and had another long run called back due to a penalty. White has always made plays, but now he has the strength to be a force.
· Kevin Johnson. Even in 7-on-7 drills, Couch is looking for KJ. In warm-ups, he made a one-handed catch of a ball thrown behind him. Nothing new there, you say? How about catching it by the point of the ball? Mr. Lerner, write the check now, KJ needs to stay in Cleveland.
· Andre Davis. In punt return drills, no dancing, no juking, he took the ball and ran past people until he reached the end zone. OK, the coverage isn't exactly in mid-season form, but I liked what I saw there.
· Barry Stokes. Playing with the second team, Stokes stood out easily. On White's 22-yard run, Stokes was 25 yards down field blocking ahead of White. Pretty impressive effort for a scrimmage. Stokes may not end up a starter, but he would be an excellent 6th man on the line with his versatility.
· Josh Booty. This man can throw. Easily outplayed Holcomb on this day. I'm looking forward to seeing Booty in real game conditions.
· Ricky Dudley. Blocked well, made a catch or two. Not spectacular, but surprisingly solid coming back from injury.
· Mark Campbell. You heard it here, he'll be on the final roster. Sure hands and looked decent blocking.
· Frisman Jackson. The man has no chance of making the roster, but he got open and caught ball. He also ran after the catch. Nice practice squad player here, perhaps.
· Autry Denson. Jim Brown he ain't, but I've got to give him kudos for solid play. Might make a good kick return man and backup. Still, even against the scrubs, 58 yards and a TD led the team.
· Orpheus Roye. Roye was more of a stay at home player in the past. In this scrimmage, he showed some push. Roye had a "sack" (should I say, "touch"?) of Couch.
· Gerard Warren. The man came to play. Was a monster against the run, was in on several stuffs.
· Kalvin Pearson. Hits hard, tackles well, and is always trying to strip the ball. I have to say, based on what I saw in the drills and scrimmage, the Browns have to find a way to keep this guy.
· Dyshod Carter. Gets a nod for his interception.
· Phil Dawson. His 54-yard FG was the first points of the day for the offense. It was high and true and would have been good from 64 yards. If he could just kickoff like that…
· William Green. Yes, he ran over Dwayne Rudd on his first carry. But he missed a third down catch and fumbled, drawing the only boos of the afternoon. His holdout didn't help him. Let's hope in a week or two, he's wowing us so much it's all forgotten.
· James Jackson. A very forgettable performance. Looked like film from the 2001 season: no gain, 1 yard, oops, now it's third-and-9.
· Lewis Sanders. I was shocked at how bad he was. Constantly burned, Lewis looked lost. His man was always open. What happened to this guy since 2000? Wow!
· Offensive Line. All of them. Very little push off the ball, if any. Most runs went a yard or two if they went forward at all. Stokes distinguished himself, but other than that, I was very disappointed in this group top to bottom.
· Kelly Holcomb. He looked pretty poor. His throws were inaccurate, and he just wasn't on. He locked on to receivers and missed open men. He threw the only interception of the day. He missed a pass to Andre King open behind the defense.
· Quincy Morgan. I've been reading about "the new Quincy". Looked like the old one to me, dropping balls and hurting the team. You gotta step up, man!
· Aaron Shea. Started at H-Back. His blocking was poor and he didn't make many plays. Maybe an off day for him, I know the man isn't a star, but he usually does more than this.
· Melvin Fowler. You can tell he has talent, but he looked lost. He was getting pushed all over the place.
· Darnell Sanders. He really didn't play badly, but you can really tell he's behind the rest of the team. Made a couple of good blocks, though.
· First Team. Three series, one first down.
· Second Team. A field goal from 54. One interception.
· Third Team/Reserves. A 31-yard field goal, a missed field goal attempt (from 58), and one TD on the 74th play.
Finally, one amusing note. Jay Taylor is a kicker brought in to "compete" with Phil Dawson. His lone kick of the day was when they sent him out to try a 58-yard FG. "Here's your big chance, kid!" He had the distance, but was wide right.
Well, there you have it. Even though I was disappointed with the offense, remember, the defense is usually ahead at this stage. Last year, after a far worse performance than this, the team dominated Buffalo in the scrimmage the following week. I also think some of the veterans are coasting a little more than last year when Butch Davis was new. We'll learn more in the days and weeks to come.
The season is short. Bark hard!