Insider Training Camp Notes

Steve King takes a look at some of the "unreported" happenings around Berea today, including a supremely confident newcomer.

An NFL cornerback needs to possess a short memory and a lot of confidence.

In that respect, then, the Browns'  newest player seems to have what it takes.

Rookie cornerback Brandon Anderson, the University of Akron product who was signed Thursday after rookie defensive back Don Carey was waived, didn't seem to want to talk about his short stint with the Indianapolis Colts when he met with the media following Friday morning's training camp practice. He signed with them as a free agent on April 30 and was waived July 31. The way he looked at it, it was old news. It's in the past and not worth dwelling on.

But that unpleasant experience didn't do anything to quell his belief in himself.

"I have a lot of speed, and I'm a great cover corner," he said.

Plus, Anderson is willing to do whatever is necessary to impress the right people so as to be able to stick with some team. Between 8 and 9 the other night, he got a call from his agent that the Browns wanted him, but instead of waiting until the next morning, he caught a flight to Cleveland in the wee hours of the morning from his home in Dublin, Va., located not far from Blacksburg, the home of Virginia Tech.

He knows he has a lot of work ahead of him, though.

"This is a hard situation for me," said Anderson, who started 17 of 48 games for the Zips from 2005-08. "Everybody else has been here for a while. I'm just trying to catch up."

Carey, the first of the Browns'  three sixth-round picks in this year's NFL Draft, hurt his shoulder early in camp and received an injury settlement from the club. If he clears waivers, then he will return to the Browns and be put onto the Injured Reserve List, where he would spend the entire season. Browns head coach Eric Mangini said Carey would not be able to practice – with any team – until next spring because of the severity of the injury. As with all injuries, though, Mangini did not provide specific information.

REAL TESTS: One of the most interesting things to watch in camp are the one-on-one blocking drills -- a defensive lineman going against an offensive lineman, with neither man able to get any help from teammates. In some of the more compelling matchups, nose tackle Shaun Rogers maneuvered around guard Kurt Quarterman, outside linebacker Alex Hall ran over tight end John Madsen, right guard/tackle Ryan Tucker drove defensive lineman Louis Leonard to the ground, and then Leonard ran over right tackle Isaac Sowells. Rookie center Alex Mack got run over by nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin and generally struggled in the practice overall while veteran Hank Fraley, with whom he is competing with for the starting job, played pretty well.

PECKING ORDER: With guard Rex Hadnot out of the mix, at least for a while, because of a knee injury, the line on the first-team offense consisted of Fraley at center, Eric Steinbach at left guard. Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack at right guard, Joe Thomas at left tackle and John St. Clair at right tackle. On the second-team line were Mack, Quarterman at left guard, Ryan Tucker at right guard, George Foster at left tackle and Sowells at right tackle.

PHIL GOALS: Mangini said he "likes" Browns kicker Phil Dawson. "I've liked him for a long time," the coach added. Dawson, the only kicker the new Browns have had and the only player left in the NFL from the 1999 expansion club, made 2-of-4 field-goal attempts from 50 yards or longer near the end of practice. Career-wise, the 11th-year pro has made two-thirds of his kicks (10-of-15) from that range, including 3-of-6 last year. Overall in his career, he is 212-of-256 for 82.8 percent from 50 yards-plus, putting him seventh all-time in the NFL in field-goal accuracy entering 2009. He set a franchise record last year by making 30 field goals (in 36 attempts). Dawson joked following practice that after spending so many days battling the tricky winds at Cleveland Browns Stadium, the calm breezes of Friday nearly threw him off. "To have a day like this here is unusual," he said. "Sometimes when it's like this, you tend to relax and lose your focus. You almost say to yourself, ‘There's this huge opening (between the uprights). I have to just go up and kick it.' You can't do that. You have to pick out a small target and aim for it."  

LISTEN HERE: Mangini said what he really likes about Dawson is that he's "a great listener. He listens to everything I say in the team meetings. I'll ask him, ‘Phil, what do the cornerbacks have to do in cover 2?" He'll say, ‘Jam the receivers.' I turn to one of the corners and say, ‘He knows the answer. How come you don't?' Phil's my go-to guy."

THE COREY STORY: Corey Williams, who struggled in 2008, his first year with the Browns, as an end in a 3-4 defensive alignment after excelling as a tackle in a 4-3 scheme with the Green Bay Packers, has really picked up the pace the last several days. He seems to finally understand what he's doing, and is playing with a little bit of a mean streak. Keep an eye on him. He knows he's in a fight to stay on the team under a new coaching regime that did not bring him in.

CAMPER OF THE DAY: Robert Royal, the free-agent pickup from the Buffalo Bills who is the projected starter at tight end, made the play of the day with a leaping catch. The other tight ends struggled in the practice.

YEAH, THEY KNOW: Going back to the minicamps, the Browns have been practicing for several months under Mangini. They know him pretty well. So when they make a mistake in practice, they just take off and start running a lap around the field as punishment, without having to be told by the coach or one of his assistants.

CHEAT SHEETS: Rookie linebacker Kaluka Maiava met with the media after practice. He had both of his wrists taped, and on the tape was written notes for some of his defensive responsibilities.

LOCAL FLAVOR:  The NFL officials are making their annual stop at training camp. They worked the morning practice and will remain through Sunday working practices and helping players and coaches understand the rule changes, while at the same time entertaining questions on other subjects they might have. In addition, the officials will tutor the area high school officials who otherwise work Browns practices on a daily basis so they can better comprehend the NFL game. The group of three officials who met with the media for a question-and-answer session included two Northeast Ohio men in referee John Parry from the Akron suburb of Tallmadge and line judge Mark Steinkirchner, a University of Akron graduate who lives in Bath Twp., between Akron and Cleveland, and is president of a small manufacturing company in Wadsworth. This is his 16th year of officiating in the NFL, and Parry's 10th.

UP NEXT: The Browns will practice just once on Friday, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., as they make final preparations for Sunday's Family Day scrimmage at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

QUOTABLE: "It's so much easier this year. Everything has slowed down. Because of that, you can react a lot faster. You see things before they happen." – second-year tight end Martin Rucker, a fourth-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft who struggled as a rookie, playing in just five games, with one start, making two catches for 17 yards. Rucker also said he's lost about 15 pounds from last year and now weighs 245.

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