- Things have dramatically changed in the Browns locker room. A year ago, the Browns locker room was filled with more distrust than communication, and there were plenty of questions coming from players as Eric Mangini started his first season as head coach of the Browns.
With Mangini now solely focused on coaching, the atmosphere within the locker room is vastly improved. While Mangini will never be described as talkative, he and his staff have done a solid job in communicating and cutting to the chase with the players.
A year ago, the perception was the hand-picked former New York Jets players brought to Cleveland had an advantage in the battle for roster spots. That is no longer the case. Mangini and his staff have made it abundantly clear that the best players within the scheme will play, and that there is absolutely no entitlement.
- As this column and threads in the ATI Forum have noted on numerous occasions, the Browns have not held meaningful discussions with the San Diego Chargers regarding RFA WR Vincent Jackson. Arguably the most talented of the available free agent receivers, Jackson faces a league suspension and wants to be compensated as one of the top-tier players at his position.
The reason for the Browns limited interest is the suspension issue along with the compensation required to consummate a deal. The latter is believed to be a first round selection or a combination of multiple second round picks and/or player(s). The compensation issue kills any potential deal for the Browns.
We've all learned to "never say never", but this may be the time to utter the phrase regarding a deal for Jackson.
- Despite Mangini not naming his starting QB at this time, the head coach has Jake Delhomme solidly pegged at the top of the depth chart. While the lack of disclosure has raised the hackles of some following the team (as well as opening the door to question Mangini once more), those within the organization and locker room know the score.
- Delhomme's performance in the OTA and mini-camp sessions has generated some optimism. When Delhomme was under center, the Browns completion percentage improved 32-percent over a year ago at this time, while the interception ratio dropped between 62-and 68 percent, depending on the parameters of evaluating the play.
-Wide receiver continues to be a position of intrigue (and continued inaction). A year ago, Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie were bright-eyed rookies looking to find their way at the professional level. With a year under their belts, these two second-year players have been very solid in OTA and mini-camp sessions. The greatest improvement for the two receivers has come in quicker recognition and better route-running. Both are achieving at a much higher level than a year ago, which has led to the organization to be cautiously optimistic heading into training camp.
- As for Robiskie, his OTA and mini-camp sessions have been as good or better than any player this off-season. Those within the coaching staff see Robiskie running routes, getting off the line and beating coverage as he did during his last two seasons at Ohio State.
- As soon as the Browns RFAs signed their tenders and got to camp, they were welcomed by immediately going on the practice fields. Despite some speculation, the Browns organization has not entertained the notion of trading any of the early Summer holdouts, nor have any of the RFA's been guaranteed anything, much less a starting spot.
- Presently, the Browns organization is not negotiating contract extensions with any of the RFA players on the roster. The front office has conducted discussions of varying degree with representatives for all the drafted players.
- In the absence of ILB D'Qwell Jackson, second-year ILB David Veikune received plenty of opportunities. Veikune is vastly ahead of his pace of a season ago, and much of this is tied to him now being coached and focusing on the inside linebacker role. Under the direction of Mangini, the Browns like ILB's that are capable of playing each of the inside positions, as well as specialty scheme packages. Jackson is the least versed in this specific facet of the job, but remains solidly in the race to start.
- In the absence of OLB Matt Roth, off-season acquisition Chris Gocong gained additional reps in the OTA and mini-camp sessions and impressed with his physicality and understanding of the scheme. At present, the starting OLB spots are up for grabs, and this competition could last well into training camp.