There is one thing that seperates mere mortals from legends, and that's opportunity.
Many people are capable of great things, yet never get the opportunity. Others wilt when the opportunity presents itself. Still more are busy watching TV while opportunity knocks, waits around for a couple minutes while occasionally looking at its watch, and then finally leaves because it figures no one is home, leaving a small pamphlet under the door.
Today, Thursday August 1st, 2002, was my opportunity, and even Space Ghost reruns could not distract me from it.
With Insiders David Carducci and Mike McLain road-tripping to Rochester, home of the world's best beer store, the nefarious Browns front office decided to move back practice time to 11AM-1PM. While they claimed that this was to minimize the downtime between the end of practice and the beginning of the team's trip, we all know that the real reason was to put Bernies Insiders off of its game and fail for the first time to produce a training camp report.
Very foolhardy. Little did they know that I was there, lying in wait to foil just such a gambit.
With a notebook in my hand and a set of binoculars around my neck, I donned my orange Jamir Miller jersey - which I find is best for blending in with the non-real-reporter "fan" element - and my now-rare BTNG hat. Resplendent in such finery, I headed down to Berea to do some real sports reporting.
Part of my plan was to enter the Training Camp complex via the South "fan" gate in order to not tip off my presence, which would result in the cancellation of practice to prevent this report. I was wearing short pants because of the heat, but had taken steps to tan my legs in order that their pasty white appearance would not give me away as a webmaster. All traces of Snickers bars and Ho-Ho wrappers were removed from my person, which also helped in this cause, and the application of flavored chewing gum helped hide the tell-tale smell of various Great Lakes Brewing Company products. Yes, I blended in perfectly. My plan went off without a hitch.
Upon going into the facility, I considered watching the white-shirted offense, which was engaged in various drills for the offensive line on the far side of the field or watch the brown-shirted defensive linemen engage in similar drills. Knowing the critical importance of the offensive line to this years team, I decided to watch the defensive line because I could stand in the shade. Later, the team did some no-contact 11-on-11 scrimmaging, with the first, second, and third teams rotating on successive plays. Tragically, no shady spots were available to watch this, so I stood in the sun next a bunch of really sweaty middle-aged guys. Again, I blended in perfectly. No one was the wiser.
From my vantage point, I could make a number of sharped-eye beat reporter observations, which I will now relay to you:
- Today was Chris Sanders day to shine, as he made a number of terrific catches which had the crowd trying to figure out who #89 was. Later #5, muffed a pass and the crowd wondered again who that was. Being a big-shot reporter, I said "dunno" when asked and made a mental note to look it up later. It's Kwame Cavil, which I know because I have a media guide like the rest of the real reporters. But really, Sanders looked sharp today and played a lot with the first team.
- It is really hot in this sun
- Dennis Northcutt didn't help his case today, as he dropped several passes. Davis was interviewed on Jim Rome while I was driving home and talked about the recievers who provide Couch with targets: KJ, Morgan, Dawson, Sanders, King all mentioned. Northcutt was not. According to David Carducci, Northcutt has been doing better, but he didn't show it today.
- Tim Couch looked sharp and was spreading the ball around nicely. Of particular note was a thread-the-needle pass to Darnell Sanders, who held the ball nicely. Sanders seems to have good hands, and caught everything tossed in his direction.
- Man, is it hot. This Jamir Miller jersey must trap heat or something.
- Kalvin Pearson refuses to go away quietly. Even with the supposed star of that Grambling defense, Robert Taylor, come and gone to the Browns roster, Pearson continues to make plays. He picked off a pass during some passing drills, being the only DB to do so while I was watching.
- The conspiracy against Jamel White continues. Jackson and Green got the most of the time with the 1st string, while White blew past Lewis Sanders during the 11-on-11, only to have Kelly Holcomb ignore his presence like he was Lenzie Jackson in 2001. Later, while interviewed on Jim Rome, Davis mentioned Jackson and Green as being the guys who need to step up in the running game, omitting White. Has anyone noticed that White got nearly a yard more per carry than Jackson last year, and scored three more touchdowns with many fewer attempts? Guess not.
- Richard Mercier was snapping the ball in the general direction of Kevin Thompson in some shotgun drills, and occasionally over his head, which didn't help the Penn State QB any as he tried for the third QB spot. Based on what we saw during today's practice, the smaller Josh Booty has a wide lead on the 6-5 Thompson.
- That metal box that they stuffed soldiers into in Bridge over the River Kwai has nothing on the Training Camp porta-potties when its 95 degrees out. You could basically cook lobsters in one of those things, although I suspect you wouldn't want to.
- A couple of nice defensive plays by Courtney Brown and Earl Holmes during the scrimmage. That the defense is well ahead at this point is very clear. Brown could have crushed Couch twice as he penetrated into the backfield.
- The team still seems to struggle with the screen pass. A screen to James Jackson was stuffed quickly by Holmes, who appears quicker than advertised to me.
- There really aren't a lot of women around here, but maybe they're all under that tent thing next to the facility. I bet they give away free hot dogs in there.
- Tyrone Rogers got a lot of reps with the first team.
- JJ Johnson is still standing on the sidelines, making less-than-likely that a fullback will be a key part of this offense. Shea looks like the leading candidate at H-back.
- I bet I could sneak into that tent and snag a hot dog, but then I'd have to come back out here and there's nothing as horrible as post-Hot-Dog stomach in the hot sun. They might hit me with a folding chair anyway if they caught me sneaking in, and that would be embarrassing. <