Let the final minicamp of the year begin.
And let the rain begin as well.
In a stark contrast to the ways of his good friend – and predecessor – and in what may also be a first in club history, head coach Eric Mangini had the Browns practicing outside in the rain Thursday as the team began a three-day, full-squad, mandatory minicamp.
It rained steady at times, and on other occasions, it was just a drizzle. However, no one – not even the most veteran of Browns beat reporters – could remember the club ever practicing in the rain in a minicamp.
Certainly that was not the case under former head coach Romeo Crennel, who, at the slightest hint of inclement weather, especially rain, moved practices to the team's indoor field. Crennel did it to try to keep his players from slipping on the wet turf and suffering an injury. As it turned out, though, the Browns, for whatever reason, got all banged up on dry fields last year, forcing them to sign players off the street toward the end to fill holes. So does it really matter?
Mangini recognizes all that.
"The safety of the players always comes first," he said. "But it's football. It's rain. It's something you have to learn how to deal with it because you're going to have to play in it at some point. And the best way to deal with it and understand it is to practice in it.
"In fact, I'm always excited when I see rain, cold, wind or snow. You can explain to a player about those conditions, but you can't simulate them. You have to be in them to really understand what it's like.
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards understands that well after playing with the Browns the last four seasons, and before that at Michigan in the cold-weather Big Ten. And he has no problem with what went on Thursday, even though he was not directly involved in it since he sat out practice with an injury the specifics of which he refused to divulge.
"It does tend to rain in Cleveland in case you haven't noticed, and you have to learn how to deal with it," he said.
Veteran running back Jamal Lewis agreed, even though he said he could never remember practicing in the rain in a minicamp.
But if the Browns, who, we should add, are in the AFC North and play four of their last five regular-season games in Cleveland, turn out to be a good poor-weather team, then getting wet in the warmth of a June day will have been worth it.
By the way, the second of the Browns' two practices on Thursday was also held outside – in what were partly sunny skies and dry conditions at the start.