- CB Eric Wright returned to drills following an abrupt departure in the morning session due to a slight hamstring tweak.
- Rookie DB Don Carey remains sidelined due to a shoulder injury.
Fullback Charles Ali was again missing from the practice session. Undisclosed was the word coming from the team referencing his absence.
- The team was in shells and shorts for the evening session, but the loss of some protective gear did not stop the players from being physical and aggressive in drills. While the pace of the session was slower in comparison to the morning practice, the coaches spent a significant amount of time on technique and design with the players.
- Offensive/Defensive line blocking drills were a sight to behold. As the depth chart along the lines faced off in some spirited competition, a few players noticeably were at the top of their game on a this muggy evening. LT Joe Thomas and DE Robaire Smith faced off in a stern challenge of brute strength (Smith) against what is quickly becoming the total package in Thomas.
As these two combatants fought to a draw, it's worth noting that Smith is healthy and a stout defender from the end position in the 3-4. Running the football against the Browns, especially with a change of scheme and personnel, could become challenging, rather than the easy task teams have enjoyed when playing the Browns in recent memory.
- With each passing session, backups Isaac Sowells and George Foster struggle to maintain blocks and find the consistency that this coaching staff preaches. Foster's forward lean and arm regression enable a defensive lineman to get him off-balance and his footwork is not supportive enough to regain proper form and technique.
With Sowells, the young lineman appears to perform much better after being beaten in drills. With some players it takes an incident to light their fire. After being thoroughly beaten early in the drill, Sowells came back with some physical and aggressive vengeance for the duration of the drill and was very competitive.
- Defensive linemen Shaun Smith and Ahtyba Rubin have benefited from Shaun Rogers' absence the past two days. Smith battled throughout the session with great success against center Hank Fraley, while Rubin also fared well against Fraley as well as 2009 first round draft selection, Alex Mack. On numerous occasions, Fraley, who had been looking solid up to this session, was pushed back well into the backfield by both Smith and Rubin.
- As for Mack, the center and future at the position for the Browns has had his fair share of rough snaps in camp drills. Mack has yet to demonstrate the raw power and solid blocking skills which catapulted the California prospect up the draft-board as a senior. In many cases, a youngster like Mack is in the midst of the learning process, which slows the reactions enough to be at a disadvantage against top competition. Presently, Mack is playing with his pad level somewhat elevated, creating a leverage situation and his lack of punch and solid base issues often place the rookie out of position technically -- but the good news is that Mack is showing that he rarely makes the same mistake multiple times.
- While Mack has had his share of trouble in the opening days of camp, rookie WR's Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi have been focal points in the Browns offensive look. As has been the norm throughout sessions, Robiskie continues to run very good routes, catches everything thrown his way and is a large target the QB's are quickly coming to depend upon.
Massaquoi has displayed the potential to be a dynamic presence in the Browns offense, despite dropping a few passes he had his hands on. Contrary to some reports, Massaquoi is not dropping passes at an alarming rate -- an issue the rookie receiver did suffer and work through at the University of Georgia in his sophomore and junior years. Numerous passes Massaquoi has gotten his hands on were off-target, causing the WR to break stride, stop and attempt to lunge toward or leap beyond his regular athletic boundaries.
- Second-year WR Paul Hubbard must have read our report on his training camp sessions to date. After struggling at times through some prior practice sessions, Hubbard was lights-out in the evening session. Hubbard reeled in four receptions, not dropping a single pass, and was the recipient of a bomb from Richard Bartel late in the session while fighting double coverage. Hubbard also hauled in a Derek Anderson laser shot on a crossing route. Coming off a late surge in the morning session, Hubbard displayed the speed and quickness the Browns are looking for in the receiving game -- if Hubbard can make the necessary catches, he will be in the mix as camp progresses.
- Syndric Steptoe was in position to make an impact and be noticed. The problem so far, however, is that Steptoe has dropped numerous passes and was noticed as being less than dependable. This could prove to be costly as the Browns have numerous receivers in camp, as well as potential candidates to share time in the kick return game.
- The defense stepped up their play and intensity during the session, as safety Abe Elam and LB Eric Barton picked off both Brady Quinn (Barton) and Derek Anderson (Elam). The Quinn interception was particularly ugly, as the defense was not in disguise, Barton simply picked up TE Aaron Walker running to the hash-marks, played under coverage, and plucked an under-thrown Quinn pass out of the air.
- Outside of the interceptions, the two competitors for the starting role appeared evenly matched in the session. Mistakes as a whole were limited, both Quinn and Anderson threw the ball reasonably well (Quinn threw a couple passes behind receivers - Anderson over-shot a couple potential receivers). In all, the offense moved the ball efficiently, but dropped passes hampered the overall progress.
- After getting attention early in camp due to some solid recognition and production in sessions, OLB Alex Hall has tapered off. Now getting reps mainly with the second unit, Hall has remained an intriguing prospect, but not a player that is excelling in comparison to the others on the depth chart.
- RB's Jamal Lewis and rookie James Davis caught numerous passes coming out of the backfield, with Lewis looking exceptional on a screen pass midway through the session. As a whole, the Browns backfield has progressed nicely throughout the early stages of camp, with Lewis being a solid mentor for Davis and Jerome Harrison.
- Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan talked about finding ways to emphasize the skills of OLB Kamerion Wimbley following the Browns mandatory practice sessions in early June. In the initial days of training camp, Ryan has moved Wimbley from both OLB spots, even seeing reps as a stand-up pass rusher from the DE position. While the process is ongoing, Wimbley has been all over the field and appears comfortable in the role . Adding to his repertoire, Wimbley has increased his upper and lower body strength, providing greater potential to bull-rush the opposing blockers.
Although the Browns remain a 3-4 based defensive unit, there are some basic changes in philosophy which could be beneficial for this specific group of players. The practice sessions and intensity of the defensive unit has been dramatically elevated. Appearing to be picking up the personality of the DC, the Browns defense flows to the ball much more aggressively - the passive and reactionary mentality looks to be a thing of the past. The defensive linemen are provided increased opportunities to attack the line of scrimmage, while the LB's, especially Eric Barton and D'Qwell Jackso,n flow to point quickly.
Mixing up coverage in the defensive backfield has produced some positive results, but more importantly, the players within the scheme are happy with the way the DC and position coaches let them play a more aggressive style of coverage. With the CB's playing a stronger man-up base and some solid recognition of responsibility and coordination of the zone packages, the overall defense has the opportunity to create and excel.
Yes, it's still early and the offensive and defensive schemes and depth chart are in process, but early returns are potentially promising.