On Monday, the Browns kicked-up the intensity of the practice session. Individual drills were conducted at a quicker pace and the team drills were a little more lengthy. The offense faced a defense which showed the customary 3-4 look, as well as some 4-3 mixed in as the session progressed.
The first-team offense faced the second-team defense in a competitive session, but an outstanding Browns offensive line dominated at the point of attack, notably in rushing drills. While all the running backs that are expected to be on the opening day roster (Lewis, Wright and Harrison) all gained reps with the squad, Lewis and Wright were exceptionally proficient running behind the left side of the Browns offensive line.
With starting WR Braylon Edwards out of practice due to a gashed foot, Steve Sanders, Travis Wilson and Syndric Steptoe saw reps with the first team offense as the #2 and #3 receivers, opposite Donte Stallworth. Steptoe had yet another very productive session. This slight-of-stature WR continues to find ways of getting open in the middle of the field, even against the best the Browns defense has to offer. Size and speed are not Steptoe's game - his quickness and surprising strength have been key to his success.
An opportunity has now fallen into Steve Sanders' lap, and it couldn't have come at a better time for the young receiver. Sanders has been productive in his training camp opportunities, which entails more than catching the football. Receivers coach Wes Chandler expects his receivers to be complete players, which means they have to be able to block down-field, and be precise and aggressive in route-running. Sanders has stepped in and shown that he has the potential to be a possession receiver, which is an area of question and concern within this roster.
WR Travis Wilson has shown signs of progress in this his third training camp, but one can still get the nagging impression that he could implode at any time. Despite Wilson's improvement in receiving skills, recognition and route-running, the receiver is often on the receiving end of Chandler's words of wisdom. An area where Wilson must improve is fighting for/through a defensive back at the time of contact.
Due to the considerable time spent in evaluating the receivers and tight ends in these training camp sessions, I am getting a very strong impression the organization may look to move a player from one of these positions in an attempt to add a presence in the defensive backfield.
Play and Player Notes of Note
- In individual defensive back drills, Brandon McDonald, Eric Wright, Brodney Pool, Sean Jones and Damon Jenkins were very quick and explosive in and out of breaks. Rookie Mil'von James dropped a ball in the drills and immediately did ten push-ups as a penalty for the miscue.
- During 11-on-11 drills, veteran LOLB Willie McGinest was consistently getting off the block and in position to make a play on the RB.
- DE Shaun Smith and NT Shaun Rogers stonewalled the running game on consecutive plays.
- Lined up inside on multiple occasions, second-year defensive lineman Meilia Purcell struggled to maintain his gap responsibility.
- The more opportunities FB Charles Ali gets, the more you can't help but notice his blocking ability. On separate occasions, Ali met rookie DE Travis Key and veteran OLB Shantee Orr off tackle, in each case the FB mowed through the defender. Ali has impressed with his ability to move well in space and beat a defender to the spot.
- QB Derek Anderson threw the ball well today. On a couple of occasions the starter stared down a receiver, waiting for the play to develop. Again on this day, the QB did not force the ball, rather he checked-down or threw the ball away against the second-team defense. Anderson basically had his way in the short-to-intermediate passing game, though Anderson did connect on a beautiful 50-yard touchdown pass to Stallworth over A.J. Davis and later connected with Josh Cribbs for another score.
- QB Brady Quinn did not fare as well on Monday against the first team defense, while running the second-team offense. The second-year signal-caller continues to run through his progressions in rapid-fire fashion, in some cases this has prohibited him from making a play down-field. On the day, Quinn has one of his passes picked-off by safety Brodney Pool and threw into double coverage in two other occasions, while completing many passes underneath the coverage. On the interception, TE Darnell Dinkins appeared to have a problem with his ankle, and left. He later returned and seemd to aggravate it again. Quinn did attempt one pass deep down the left sideline, which was overthrown (Cribbs). On consecutive plays in 11-on-11 drills, CB Eric Wright blitzed off the edge forcing Quinn to throw the ball quickly. The second year QB completed one pass to rookie WR Paul Hubbard and threw the other into the sideline.
- KR/WR Josh Cribbs was on the receiving end of three Quinn passes, one an a slant, another a crossing route and the third was a strike as Cribbs was running to the post. Cribbs, who had trouble holding onto the ball in June mini-camp sessions, has been consistent and much more focused and precise over the past two weeks in the receiving game. Cribbs also hauled in a TD reception from Anderson in team drills.
- Early in red-zone drills, Anderson lateraled the ball to Winslow, who was split wide left. The TE proceeded to come back across the field, then throwing a spiral to RB Jamal Lewis in the end-zone for a TD.
- Late in 11-on-11 drills, Anderson flipped a shuffle pass to RB Jason Wright, who turned the ball up between Thomas and Steinbach and scampered untouched through the Browns second-team defense.
- OT Cliff Louis did not practice with the team and worked with medical personnel on the side.
- WR Kevin Kasper (hamstring) did not practice.
- OG Seth McKinney (ankle) returned to practice.
- TE Brad Cieslak returned to practice after sitting out and working with the staff on Sunday.
- FB Lawrence Vickers (hamstring) returned to practice.
- WR Braylon Edwards (foot) did not practice.
- OLB Antwan Peek (knee surgery) was at the facility working out.
- OG Ryan Tucker (hip surgery) was at the facility and could be on the field relatively soon.