King's Notes: The Center of Attention

How close is Alex Mack to getting into the starting lineup? The OBR gives you a second perspective on today's practice through the eyes of Steve King.

On a day when not much went right, especially offensively, in training camp practice, the line became the center of attention for the Browns on Tuesday morning.

Literally and figuratively.

To get top draft pick Alex Mack into the lineup, and at the same time to take advantage of Hank Fraley's refusal to give up his spot, the Browns had both of the players on the field together for a while with the No. 1 unit. Mack was at center and Fraley, the team's center the past three seasons, was at left guard. They seemed to work well together.

"It was nice having him – and that experience – out there with me," Mack said after practice. "We got confused on the blocking assignments on one play. I'm yelling one thing, and Hank is yelling, "No, no no!," and he's calling out something else. He was right.

"Eventually, I'll be up to speed on all that, but in the meantime, it's nice to have him out there with me. He's a great guy who really knows the game."

The opportunity to take both players, who have been competing for the starting center job throughout camp,  and pair them together was made possible when Eric Steinbach went from left guard to left tackle to spell Joe Thomas, who was given the day off by head coach Eric Mangini for winning one of the team's offseason awards. Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack and John St. Clair remained at right guard and right tackle, respectively.

Like the other parts of the team, the line struggled in Saturday night's 17-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the preseason opener. That includes Mack, who was in his NFL debut.

"I wasn't awful," he said. "But I know I can play better. I made some mistakes out there that I shouldn't make."

Mack said his transition from Cal to the Browns has been "a little give and take. It was really difficult for me the first couple of days because of how physical it was. And on top of that, there's the fact of the speed of the players. These guys are not only big, but they're also fast. But I know I'll be fine if I just play my technique."

And if he also listens to Hank Fraley when he suggests changes to the blocking assignments.

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OUCH: It was a second consecutive day of struggling for the two players in the quarterback derby, Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, and maybe the toughest moment was when Quinn threw a pass that was picked off by cornerback Brandon McDonald and returned 20 yards for a touchdown. The ball, which fluttered badly, looked as if it had been tipped, but apparently it wasn't. Maybe Quinn was trying to hold up on the throw, but couldn't do so and ended up having to release the ball anyway. Whatever the case, it wasn't pretty.

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TOUR DE BEREA: Nose tackle Shaun Rogers, guard/tackle Ryan Tucker, running back Jerome Harrison and wide receiver Paul Hubbard were pn another field riding exercise bikes to rehabilitate unspecified injuries.

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EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND: The acquisition of wide receiver Paul Raymond off waivers from the New York Jets indicates just how worried Mangini is about the depth at that spot. The Browns need to get talented rookies Brian Robiskie and Mohammed Massaquoi jump-started to help alleviate that problem.

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WELL-DESERVED: In the past when the Browns practiced poorly, it would tend to get glossed over. Not anymore. Though Mangini did everything he could to control his emotions, it was still crystal clear he was extremely upset with the way the Browns performed on offense in the morning. When it was suggested to him by a reporter that maybe the players had hit the wall after days and days of working in the hot August sun and that possibly they needed some "comic relief" to break away, relax and get re-focused, Mangini quipped that if his troops "wanted some comic relief, then maybe they should watch the tape of practice." Funny line. But he wasn't smiling or laughing when he said it. He's irritated and won't tolerate it, which is a good thing.

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PICTURES SAY A THOUSAND WORDS: After tight ends Aaron Walker and John Madsen both had false starts on the same play before taking off to run their lap around the field as punishment, Mangini, his face beet-red, just stood on the sideline shaking his head in disgust.

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TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE … : In the first play of team drills, a penalty flag came flying out almost as soon as the ball was snapped. The Browns, besieged by numerous and costly penalties last season and then again against the Packers last Saturday, have to cut down on these errors, most of which are silly ones caused by a lack of concentration.

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NOW THAT'S WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT: Yes, Braylon Edwards has had his share of dropped passes – a lot of dropped passes, in fact, including one against the Packers on Saturday night that would have gone for a touchdown. But it's what happened in back-to-back plays in the morning practice that keeps coaches here salivating over his abilities and what could be. He beat cornerback Corey Ivy down the left sideline to make a leaping grab of a long pass from Quinn. It was the most impressive offensive play of the day. Then, on the next play, Edwards beat Ivy again down the left sideline, only this time, Quinn overthew him. But Ivy was flagged for pass interference.

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CAMPER OF THE DAY:  A core special teamer, as well as a backup safety, veteran Nick Sorensen has quietly had a good camp. He's smart and athletic and always seems to be around the ball. You need players like him on a football team.

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IT'S OVER: Although the schedule for the final week of camp next week hasn't been announced yet, it is believed Tuesday marked the last double session of the summer.  There should be only single practices slated for the last six days of camp.

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UP NEXT: The Browns will practice once on Wednesday, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

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QUOTABLE: "Oh, my god!" -- Ivy exclaiming when he saw he had been called for pass interference against Edwards.


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