Browns Mini-Camp: Norwood Gets Noticed

If the rookie wide receiver from Penn State didn't open up eyes before, he did on Friday. Steve King reports from Browns mini-camp...

OK, who has made the best catch of the spring for the Browns?

Wide receiver Braylon Edwards? No, he hasn't practiced much because of an unspecified injury situation.

Rookie wideouts Brian Robiskie or Mohammed Massaquoi? No and no, although they've played well.

Veteran wideout David Patten? Tight ends Robert Royal, Martin Rucker or John Madsen? No four times.

Give up? It's … rookie free agent wide receiver Jordan Norwood.

It's not even close. The little-known Norwood is the hands-down winner thus far, with one more practice slated Saturday morning.

Never heard of Norwood? You've watched Ohio State games the last four seasons, haven't you? And if you have, then you've seen Norwood, who played at Big Ten rival Penn State.

He caught 158 passes for 2,015 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career, and as a senior last fall had 41 receptions for 637 yards and six scores. His best season receptions-wise came as a sophomore in 2006 when he had 45 for 472 yards and two TDs.

But none of those catches could have been any better – or more impressive -- than the one he made Friday morning for a touchdown as the Browns continued their full-squad minicamp.

Standing in the back left corner of the end zone, Norwood went up over three defenders to grab a laser shot from quarterback Brady Quinn.

That was not easy for him to do, as he's not exactly the biggest receiver on the team at just 5-foot-11 and 179 pounds. Yet it looked as if he was 6-3 with the way he rose above the crowd. Maybe that came from the one season in which he played on the Penn State basketball team.

"It's been one of my only catches of camp, so it was good to get it," Norwood said. "The fact it came in the end zone made it even more enjoyable."

Born in Honolulu, he went to high school in State College, Pa., which made it an easy choice for him to stay in town and go to Penn State.

"I got a scholarship, but there were no real expectations for me when I started school there," he said. "I kind of flew under the radar."

From that meager beginning, he did pretty well for himself with the Nittany Lions.

Norwood comes from a football and sports family. His father, Brian, is the defensive coordinator at Baylor after having spent seven years as the secondary coach at Penn State. His brother, Gabe, played on the George Mason basketball team that advanced to the NCAA Final Four in 2006 and is now on a club in the Philippine Basketball Association. He is a member of the Philippine national squad as well.

"Any success I've had has come from working hard," Norwood said. "No matter how talented you are, you've got to work hard."

Norwood said he's doing what he can "to catch people's attention" with the Browns, and receptions like the one Friday certainly did that. He'll need more of those, though, to ultimately make the quantum leap to a spot on the final roster.

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OTHER PLAYS OF THE MORNING: Rookie defensive back Don Carey, a star earlier in the spring, refused to bite on a fake, stayed back and broke up a pass in the end zone. … Veteran safety Mike Adams intercepted a Derek Anderson pass in the middle of the field.

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PLAYS OF THE AFTERNOON PRACTICE: Defensive back Hamza Abdullah intercepted a Brett Ratliff pass and returned it for a TD. … Wide receiver Paul Hubbard came back to make a nice catch of a throw by Ratliff. … Ratliff threaded the needle to wide receiver Joshua Cribbs on a comebacker. … Quinn feathered a pass into the arms of running back Jerome Harrison down the sideline. … Quinn completed two passes to tight end Aaron Walker, including one in which he leaped to grab it.

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OUCH: Running back Noah Herron limped off with an apparent ankle problem but returned after getting it re-taped.

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ABSENT: Anderson did not actively participate in the afternoon due to a calf injury… Fourth-round draft pick Kaluka Maiava, a linebacker from USC who has not practiced for a while because of an unspecified injury situation, was excused from both practices for "a personal issue," according to Browns head coach Eric Mangini.

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KICKING COMPETITION UPDATE: Veteran Phil Dawson and rookie Parker Douglass went at it again with alternating field-goal attempts at the end of practice. Dawson made all four of his tries. Douglass missed one, going wide left on a line drive, but redeemed himself by ending practice with a 50-yarder into a stiff wind that barely made it over the crossbar.

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MAKING HIS PRESENCE FELT: As mentioned, Edwards continues to sit out with an undisclosed injury, but while standing on the sideline, he made a nice catch of a pass Anderson intentionally threw away.

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JUST VISITING: Children from the six sites around Cuyahoga County of the Positive Education Program Day Treatment Center, took in the morning practice. … Watching in the afternoon were children from Applewood Center of Cleveland, which offers behavioral services and foster care. … Also there in the afternoon were three relatives of left tackle Joe Thomas, including his well-known aunt with the Mohawk haircut and a number of tattoos.

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UP NEXT: The minicamp – and the spring practices – conclude with a Saturday morning session, and then the players get their marching orders and are sent home to rest up for the start of training camp in about six weeks. An exact date for the beginning of camp has yet to be an nounced. It should be around Aug. 1.

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MANGINI QUOTABLES: "He has really done a good job. He's picked up things quickly. He doesn't often repeat the same mistake the next day, which is positive. I have been extremely pleased with what he has done with his opportunity. There is a great example of a young guy getting a lot more reps then he normally would because of the situation we have. He is a guy that has maximized that opportunity." – the coach on sixth-round draft pick James Davis, who has been getting a lot of work with Jamal Lewis hurt.

"We look at all players. It's not specific to him or anybody else, we look at all players who we think can help us and it works within the context of the guys that we are bringing in." – on the release of quarterback Michael Vick and if he would ever have an interest in a player like that.

"We worked on it quite a bit each year, and we are trying to get better every year at it. You can do a great job for 58 minutes and not do a great job in those last two minutes and everything changes. You can make quite a few mistakes in those 58 minutes and then end up winning the game if you are good in that situation. So many games come down to it, year in and year out, Super Bowls, conference championships, playoff games, getting into the playoffs, all of those things. It's week in and week out, and it's always tough to coach off of because the variables change. We are trying to keep improving it." – on the importance of the two-minute drill and if he spend more time on it in practice now than when he first became a head coach.


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