Other than the quarterback play, which was spotty, Browns head coach Eric Mangini, not an easy guy to please, seemed to be pretty happy with the way his team played in the Brown and White Scrimmage on Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
"It was a really productive day," he said after the Brown scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and then held on for a 17-14 victory when Phil Dawson clanked a 48-yard field-goal attempt off the left upright with 22 seconds left. "There was a lot to coach off of and a lot to teach off of. It was a really good start for us."
The scrimmage was played like an actual game. It started at 1 p.m., just like the games do on Sundays in the regular season. There were even simulated TV timeouts and the singing of the national anthem, for goodness sakes, and a halftime during which there were two youth football games going on at either end of the field.
The only thing that was different is that there was no tackling so as to avoid injury. But that will change on Saturday night when the Browns go to Green Bay and play the Packers in the preseason opener.
"The speed of the game in the preseason is faster than what it was today, but the speed of the preseason is nothing like the regular season," Browns quarterback Brady Quinn said.
The regular season will start Sept. 13 when the Minnesota Vikings visit Cleveland. Mangini is hoping he'll still be pleased with his team after that one.
DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN: Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers shot between the guard and center, hit Jamal Lewis as soon as he got the ball and flattened him for a four-yard loss on the first play of team activities on the opening day of training camp eight days before. He did exactly the same thing on the first play from scrimmage on Sunday. "It's just like when you're a kid and you play the game Kill That Man," Rogers said. "You scan the field, find the ball and attack it."
HERRON A LOT FROM HIM: Noah Herron has looked good in this camp, and the fifth-year free-agent running back looked real good when he raced 39 yards for a touchdown that gave the White a 14-0 lead. "The hole opened up, and off to the races I went," he said. "Holes like that don't happen very often, so when they do, you've got to seize the moment. Anytime you get into the end zone, whether it's a practice, scrimmage or game, it's a plus." Herron, a Northwestern product, is trying to fill the role left vacant when ex-Wildcat Jason Wright left the Browns for the Arizona Cardinals in free agency in the offseason. "I talked to Jason and he said I would like it here," Herron said. "I'm just going to continue to play hard to show what I can do."
LONG-LEGGED LANCE LEGGETT: At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, wide receiver Lance Leggett is on the thin – the real thin -- side. As a result, he struggles to fight his way through jams at the line of scrimmage. But when he gets into the open field, he can make plays, like he did when he caught a 51-yard TD pass from Quinn on the White's first offensive play from scrimmage. "Lance lived in the meeting room in the offseason learning our playbook," Mangini said. "It's good to see that hard work pay off. He has good vertical speed." And a lot of confidence. He said he wasn't nervous at all when he saw Quinn's pass coming right for his outstretched arms. "I've been playing football all my life. And I played at the University of Miami, where there's a lot of pressure," said Leggett, who spent all of his rookie season of 2008 on the Browns practice squad. He's in a crowded field at wideout, but he's not worried about that, either. "I'm just working hard, and whatever happens, happens," he said.
CASE IN POINT: As camp opened, Browns inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was reminded of the kind words said about him by defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. "Now I've just got to go out and prove it," he said. He's been doing it in camp thus far, and he did it again – in a big way – in the scrimmage when he intercepted a Derek Anderson pass at the 2 and returned it 40 yards. "When the lights go on, the stars shine, and I want to be the guy to make plays and be an impact player," Jackson said. "What happened out there today was something to build off of, individually and for our defense as whole." Added Mangini, "D'Qwell also got D.A. on that same play in the OTAs. He has great instincts. He knows where the ball is going. He's very serious in his approach to this game, and that's what you want."
THE CRIBBS SHEET: Wide receiver Joshua Cribbs caught a lot of passes, but because of the rule that a player was declared down when touched, he couldn't do what he does best and break tackles. "That was flag football out there," he said. "I'm used to running through people." And doing a lot of other things as well. "Josh is just an unbelievable athlete," Quinn said. "You want to get the ball into his hands, and when you do, he'll break a tackle. But he couldn't do that today. He's definitely capable of playing wide receiver as well as he does special teams."
INJURY UPDATE: Guard Rex Hadnot used crutches to walk outside the locker room following the scrimmage. There's still no word on the severity of the knee injury he suffered Thursday. Tight end Steve Heiden, who had offseason knee surgery, was held out of the scrimmage, but it was just precautionary. "They've worked me pretty hard the last couple of days," he said.
QUOTABLE: "He did a good job of leading today, getting us all in the right place. He's the captain of the ship." – Cribbs on Quinn.