Training camp is over. The fans no longer can come and watch the team work themselves into game shape. The media can no longer gaze onto the field, grasping at any and every word coming from the head coach and organization as they search for stories to fill Browns fans appetite for information on their favorite team.
Despite the "official" end of training camp, however, evaluation of players is far from over.
The coming days will be critical for a number of players on this roster. The pressure is just now getting cranked up. Three games and two weeks remain for the team to figure out how it is going to get down to the 53-man roster limit.
While camp provides a key time for player evaluation and preparation, it's also a unique experience for the fans.
We write about the team every day, but training camp is really the fans' single opportunity to get access to the team which is denied the rest of the year. On a daily basis, training camp was filled with fans wanting to get a glimpse of their favorite player, and to get a close-up view of the players on which their hopes for the 2007 season rest.
To me, however, the best part of training camp comes down to watching the faces of the kids beaming when they see their stars in action, close-up. Being so close to their gridiron heroes brings excitement, hope and dreams to the minds of the youth in attendance.
There is no better feeling than seeing a child wrapped up in the belief that some day he/she could be the next Kellen Winslow or Willie McGinest. Throughout my time doing this, I have never seen as many players sign autographs and pose for pictures as I did in this camp.
Their approach this year says a lot about the character and understanding of these athletes. The emotional feedback flows both ways - it was almost funny to hear some of these players discuss their amazement over the loyalty of Browns fans.
Starting today, the team is basically off-limits to all us as the preparation continues for the regular season and a season-opening showdown with the Dallas Cowboys.
As for training camp, I would like to personally acknowledge the Cleveland Browns for making the sessions fan-friendly, as well as bringing a smile and a dream to so many children.