BEREA - Over two thousand fans were on hand Wednesday for the opening of the Cleveland Browns 2008 training camp in Berea, Ohio. The prevailing mood was one of unprecedented optimism for the franchise, and the players taking the field for the initial practice of the camp season appeared ready and eager to get underway.
Missing from the practice session was wide receiver Donte Stallworth, who is suffering from a slight hamstring strain. Also out of action are offensive lineman Ryan Tucker (hip surgery) and wide receiver Joe Jurevicius (knee surgery).
Stallworth, a key off-season acquisition, is slated to start opposite Braylon Edwards. Free agent wide receiver Kevin Kasper lined up with the starting unit in the practice session as Stallworth and Jurevicius' injuries depleted the roster at receiver.
While Stallworth will likely return quickly, the prognosis on Tucker and Jurevicius was decidedly mixed. Browns' general manager Phil Savage was optimistic when addressing the media today regarding Tucker, but was reserved on the subject of Jurevicius.
"We feel good about where Tucker is," said Savage. "I think we're a little further down the line in terms of where he is recovery wise. With Joe, it's a little up in the air right now. Unfortunately, it took a turn for the worse while we were gone on vacation, but we're still hopeful to have him. It could be for the first part of the season, it might be a little later down the line."
- Savage noted the team is in a different mode in 2008's camp. The Browns GM indicated the team is now in a position where the focus will be more on determining roles for players on the depth chart, and less on contesting starting roles.
- All players on the practice field had previously passed the team-mandated running test. There are no holdouts from camp this year.
- Head coach Romeo Crennel likes the attitude of the team heading into camp and believes there is a different feeling with this team.
- Savage noted the Browns were not interested in recently released San Diego Chargers wide receiver Eric Parker at the present time. Coming off a toe injury last season, Parker is not healthy yet and most likely would not be ready to go for a few more weeks.
- The Browns GM also said he liked the quality and depth of the running backs behind starter Jamal Lewis and would like to see more of Jerome Harrison on the field in the 2008 season. Harrison has spent considerable time working on his receiving skills during the off-season.
- Tight end Kellen Winslow was true to his word and was in camp, participating in all the drills on this day.
- Tight end Steve Heiden was on the field and is expected to fully participate in practice sessions following off-season back surgery.
- Drills in the practice session were basically run at a walk-through pace, with no contact. The intensity is expected to pick up on Thursday during the first two-a-day sessions on the camp schedule. Camp practice ended at approximately 4:35 p.m. under heavy overcast skies, with all the players visiting and signing autographs with the fans in attendance.
- Fans were quite loud during the practice session, chanting things like Brady, Brady to DA, DA, Braylon, K2 and Super Bowl. We would be remiss if we didn't note the fans displayed their dislike for the Steelers, loudly and often.
- Team owner Randy Lerner took in practice today in-between practice fields, after visiting with Browns legend Jim Brown outside the indoor practice field.
- Sports columnist Peter King, a frequent observer of the Browns even during down years, was in attendance today.
What They Said
"I'm ready, feeling good, it's time to go," - Browns defensive end Robaire Smith.
"Man, the fans were loud.......great. We're ready to get this going, we have a lot of work to do here," - Browns outside linebacker Antwan Peek.
"I feel good and I'm ready to do what I can to help us win. I am hungry and ready to play," - Browns backup quarterback Brady Quinn.
"I'm excited about camp. I'm excited about the opportunities we have in front of us," - Browns starting quarterback Derek Anderson.