The season has begun.... sort of.
With a couple of exceptions, players are back at the Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio for the start of the off-season training activities. These activities basically get the players back into the filmroom, onto the field and back into the team environment.
There isn't a flood of players back into town. Many of the players either maintain off-season homes in Cleveland or have been in town working at the training complex at times over the past few months.
All players on the roster are expected to be in present for OTAs, though the process is not mandatory. In some cases in the past, there has been some leniency, but the time-table is pretty specific when it comes to the Cleveland organization these days. Players are expected to be in town for this voluntary session.
In other words, it is time to get to camp.
Players are 'officially' working out, getting instruction about conditioning and expectations, as well as beginning to adjust to changes made during the off-season. During the OTAs, the organization will be in full teaching mode.
These weeks are critical for rookies and other young, relatively inexperienced players hoping to secure roster spots. A lot rides on these closed sessions for younger players in particular, who hope to get noticed by the organization.
For many of the established veterans, this time will be spent slowly working on mental and physical conditioning, as well as working with their respective units. The OTA's are not a time when the media will be reporting earth-shattering news, nor will this be a time when roster battles will be determined. The pieces will be put in place for that to happen later.
Here's some what what we're hearing as they begin:
- Running back Jerome Harrison is in great physical condition and is set on making an impression as the OTA's commence. Harrison, along with Jason Wright and Austin Scott will get plenty of opportunities as the activities start. Wright's place on the roster is secure, and both Harrison and Scott will get a lot of reps. There is a belief in the Cleveland camp that Harrison has been attentive and matured in the offensive system, along with taking to veteran leadership within the roster.
- Veteran offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley should be in camp this week and anticipates he will provided the opportunity to get on the field. At this time, the team has no expectations of Bentley, but a few of his teammates note to this column that he is in good shape and mentally prepared for the battles ahead.
- While the belief is team did not fully answer the perceived needs at OLB this off-season, there is a surprising bit of knowledge the organization utilized in the decision making process. As members of the Houston Texans, the duo of Antwan Peek and Shantee Orr were very effective in the base 3-4 defense. Playing off one another, this duo put up solid numbers. They were able to pressure the quarterback and aggressively attack the perimeter. Both players are healthy and hoping to repeat their magic in Cleveland, especially for what they believe is a winning cause. The whole may be greater than the sum of the parts in this case.
- Wide receiver Travis Wilson needs to make an impression on this staff and especially his position coach, Wes Chandler, immediately. It's not a secret that Wilson has disappointed, largely due to a lack of concentration and consistency, on and off the practice field. Lapses in route running and offensive knowledge requirements have been costly to Wilson. He is going to be provided the opportunity to show the staff that he made progress during the off-season.
- Rookie tight-end Martin Rucker will gain a great opportunity as the OTA's kick-off, due to the injury issues of Kellen Winslow and Steve Heiden.