On the Line
Day 4 (Sunday): As these daily snapshots wrap up through the end of opening weekend, trends and insights on players have become slightly clearer than when Cleveland Browns training camp opened.
Certainly the intent was not to try and present the entire picture in regards to the talent traipsing around the Berea Complex as of late but rather to see the flow of improvement, regression, etc. which is on display on a daily basis by every single player. Sunday's practice, for example, was hard to digest as the pace itself slowed to snail's crawl plus the added usage of the nickel package by the defense.
As the season progresses check back as the Orange and Brown Reports looks to continuing eyeing up the talent in the trenches.
Louis Leonard – While working exclusively in the interior, Leonard looked to have trouble getting an offensive lineman's off his chest. Once the offensive lineman gains that leverage, he has control. Certainly the ability to breakdown the offensive lineman's arms was not in the nose tackle's repertoire this day.
Christian Mohr – Often overlooked, the German national continues to work hard every day. Long and lanky, the practice squad fodder looks overmatched by bigger and stronger offensive lineman. He does not appear to be just happy being overseas playing professionally though, as he often puts extra time in working different areas of his game after each practice.
Chase Pittman – Again the defensive end appeared slow off the snap. Though he has physically progressed to an impressive level, his overall play during the opening weekend has been lackluster at best.
Melila Purcell – Earlier in the week it was noted, Purcell was playing high and being pushed off the ball. Part of the problem became apparent Sunday as the defensive end struggled using his hands properly and getting off of blocks. If he were to come off the ball low and hard, and let his natural athleticism take over, he could become a bigger impact on the defensive line rotation.
Shaun Rogers – After two salivating good days, the mammoth defensive lineman came down to earth slightly at the end of the weekend. His first step was not as quick, and he did not dominate at the point of attack like previously seen. One area which proved to be a good sign was seeing the 359 pounder making his way down field, hustling some, and trying to make a tackle on an opposite field run.
Ahtyba Rubin – Both young nose tackles shared in the same problems on this day. Rubin also had trouble successfully fending and getting off of blocks. While the position demands a nose tackle to eat up said blocks, the ability to beat those same blocks can separate the average from the elite.
Brian Schaefering – Often during the week this young and improving undrafted free agent has worked hard and garnered some attention from the coaching staff. Coming off the ball low and hard is a good start, but the defensive end lacked that continual motor which was on display earlier in the week. One down day can spell the doom of any fringe player who does not play with a high motor every single snap.
Robaire Smith – Whereas the young players mentioned struggled to get off blocks, so did the veteran. Part of the blame would likely be a part of the tone which was set throughout the day. Even still, one would like to see a starter of Robaire's caliber consistently do the little things every day to make this an overall successful defensive line.
Shaun Smith –While fellow defensive lineman Corey Williams has spent the last few days nursing a shoulder, Shaun Smith has received the bulk of repetitions as the first team's other defensive end. Again, hand play was somewhat of a concern as the utility defensive lineman did not display a second move to get hands off his jersey during the day. The end result is what looks to be a complete lack of ability to rush the passer with any consistency from the interior.
Corey Williams – Again sat out practice due to injury.
Nate Bennett – Becoming comfortable as the second unit's right guard, Bennett continues to battle every chance he gets. During the week he has looked like a limited prospect athletically, but it is certainly hard to ignore the vigor he has approached each day.
Hank Fraley – Throughout the day, the play caller at the pivot shined at what he does best…recognition. Earlier in the week, the offensive linemen were a little confused on a couple fronts which were seen. Today, the calls were much more crisp and effective in pass protection.
Lennie Friedman – Looks to have settled as the team's backup center. Friedman's quickness and technique have been on display throughout the practices as he does the yeoman's share of work at either the pivot or guard, wherever the team's asks him to be.
Rex Hadnot – The right guard's inconsistency continued to be on display. In the box he is a true bulldog, really fighting and scrapping for blocks. This is a good trait as well as bad. In regards to the bad, Hadnot has a tendency to play over his toes a bit and when he misses his initial contact he can look bad at times. After watching the guard for a few days, some might question whether or not the young veteran is the right fit for the Browns' system.
James Lee – Plenty can be said about the undrafted free agent, both good and bad. Today for example; Lee displayed a nice punch with his long arms, brought his hips, and followed through well in his blocks. Then he would come out of his stance high and get lost in space. Certainly room for improvement but there is a lot of natural talent in this young offensive tackle.
Cliff Louis – The extra time spent just a day earlier on his technique was already paying dividends. Today the tackle did exceptionally well mirroring defenders in his pass protection and looked much smoother in his set than in previous showings.
Seth McKinney – Again sat out practice due to injury.
Derrick Morse – Improving each and every day what the interior offensive lineman lacks in physical ability, Morse has shown a solid work ethic and decent tools. Today for example the guard displayed his strong hands and the ability to really entangle a defender at the point of attack, plus enough athletic ability to get his head across and cut off his assignment backside. What he lacked during the day was patience. Morse was simply unable to sit back and wait to land his punch but would rather attack a defender and maul. As a late addition to the roster, the Hurricane product has an uphill battle but he continues to work hard show some promise.
Marvin Philip – Again sat out practice due to injury.
Kevin Shaffer – Clearly the former left tackle is easing into a comfortable level of play at right tackle. He approaches each day with a blue collar attitude, puts in the extra time on his footwork, and mauls people at the point of attack. There continue to be some technique flaws but they can be overcome on the strongside.
Isaac Sowells – Continually flip flopping between left and right tackle, the former fourth rounder has yet to really find a rhythm. On the blindside Sowells was not quick enough off the edge to effectively block a speed rush. He compounded his problems by a lack of timing on his punch. Early indications looked like the tackle was most comfortable at right tackle through opening weekend and hopefully can continue to improve his overall game in hopes of contributing this season.
Eric Steinbach – When not facing a Shaun Rogers with something to prove, the athletic phenom known as Eric Steinbach goes about his business quietly and efficiently. A difference can be seen quickly on how Steinbach fits into this roster as compared to a year ago. Each practice he has worked hard got the job done, and tried to improve on all the things his line coaches expect. Prior and after practice, the guard is much livelier than a year ago and has quickly become a leader.
Joe Thomas – The all everything at left tackle continued to display those things which make him so effective, especially in pass protection. Though a little hard overall on his handplay through the first few days, it is hard to overlook Thomas' perfect body lean, ability to slide and mirror any defender, and the pure athleticism needed to be an NFL left tackle. One area which was of slight concern coming out of college and reared its head slightly during this day was the former Badger's inability to really finish blocks by keeping his feet pumping effectively. Again it is the little things which will help Thomas ascend from a Pro Bowler into grading in at Anthony Munoz levels.