Towing the Line: Practice Observations

O-line fiend Sobodawg offers his observations from a day spent in Berea...

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity visit Browns Training Camp in Berea. Sunday's practice was quite light considering the players were wearing full pads and there was certainly some scrimmage action. Here is a period by period breakdowns/highlights of the hogs up front and how they looked throughout the day to the naked eye.


-- Seth McKinney was working with the quarterbacks snapping balls. The coaching staff certainly has not forgotten that center is where McKinney has played most of his career, and he could be more than emergency depth when all is said and done.


-- The offensive line as a unit worked extensively on double teams (specifically tackle/tight end combos as well as recognition between the interior linemen), stunt recognition, and backside cut blocks.

-- The defensive line concentrated almost exclusively on reading their keys and fighting against the pressure of the block. Orien Harris and Melila Purcell were forced to put in extra time in this area as the other defensive linemen took a break.

-- First team defensive line was the same (Roye, Washington/Kelley, R.Smith) while Parker, S.Smith, and Fraser were on the second unit.

-- Fred Mutua showed the quickest first step while the offensive linemen were in the shoots. Regardless, he was coached up on bringing his hips and getting extension after making initial contact.

-- Rob Smith struggled while in the shoots and was corrected by the offensive line coach for not bringing his hips and thus having too much weight forward.

-- There is some obvious potential in undrafted free agent, Cliff Louis. The rookie is a tall, lanky specimen with long arms and a solid working knowledge of line technique.

-- Ryan Tucker appeared to be in the best shape of his Cleveland Brown career. He looked to have a much quicker first step

-- Isaac Sowells quickly became the day's whipping boy for the coaching staff. The second-year guard was very slow off the snap, his feet appeared to be stuck in mud, and his handplay was inconsistent as well.

Special Teams:

-- Simon Fraser, Lennie Freidman, and Sowells have been deemed athletic enough at this point to be the wedge blocking for Josh Cribbs on kickoff returns.

One on One Pass Rush Drill: (the real meat of the day's practice)

-- Ryan Tucker showed a much stronger post leg than fans are accustomed to seeing and was very smooth in his pass set overall.

-- Orpheus Roye blew right past Seth McKinney on their first snap opposing one another. Roye caught McKinney leaning and used his hands nicely to rush the imaginary passer. On his next rep against a different defensive lineman, McKinney learned his lesson and showed a strong punch.

-- Shaun Smith's initial quickness and strength is apparent, but he did not show any kind of counter in his pass rush today.

-- The one concern which will continue to persist in Eric Steinbach's game is his inability to anchor against the bulrush as was seen against Robaire Smith.

-- Kevin Shaffer was technically sound in his pass protection all day but had trouble maintaining his blocks once his opponent countered, and Shaffer had to use his athleticism.

-- Quietly, Kelly Butler has had a solid camp to date but needs to consistently keep his hands in tight or holding penalties will commence.

-- Lennie Freidman displayed a nice punch and able to maintain his blocks but can be overwhelmed by larger defensive tackles.

-- Simon Fraser blew right past Andrew Hoffman at one point just by using his hands properly and swatting Hoffman's initial punch.

-- The athleticism Joe Thomas regularly displays in his pass set is impressive, but at times he tends to get a little "high in the hips" and it takes away from his anchoring properly. Though on a singular occasion, Thomas was the first left tackle to date to actually sink low enough to ride Kamerion Wimbley wide after Wimbley dipped his shoulder to come around the corner.

-- The very next snap, Wimbley made rookie Cliff Louis look awful by swatting the young lineman's hands and blowing right past.

-- Nat Dorsey on the other hand is a waistbender and will often be beat because of too much forward body lean.

-- Rob Smith continued to have trouble anchoring and today was blown back by Babatunde Oshinowo.

-- Overheard: Offensive line coach Steve Marshall emphatically explaining to Fred Matua, "PUNCH EM!!!"

-- Hank Fraley also has to consistently keep his hands inside and not let them get wide at times.

Team Session:

-- Most of the Browns pass blocking schemes currently are simple slide protections allowing the fullback or tailback to pick up the end player coming off the edge for the defense.

-- Nat Dorsey seems to have been promoted and received a couple reps at left guard on the second team over Hoffman and Matua.

-- Kevin Shaffer held his ground well and his pass blocking was solid all throughout the passing scrimmage.

-- Joe Thomas was slow on his punch in general but it became apparent especially in this session.

-- Ryan Tucker also struggled with his initial punch as well when Willie McGinest came in on a blitz and spin past the blow to get to the quarterback for a "practice sack".

-- Surprisingly, a veteran of Ted Washington's experience was hooked at one point by the backside guard where Jamal Lewis found an open hole to run.

-- Andrew Hoffman showed some awareness today at his new position by cleanly picking up a delayed blitz by Leon Williams.

-- The most impressive play of the day for the line crazed was watching Babatunde Oshinowo properly eat up a double team by the guard and center, dip his shoulder, and split the double team with such textbook technique it should be shown on coaching tapes. A good way to end the day.

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