This and that reaching my ears in the quiet days before training camp...
- Rookie offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao has made quite an impression on the Browns coaching staff. Lauvao has been rock solid throughout OTA and mini-camp sessions. While these sessions don't truly provide a true evaluation of a player due to the limited contact, it has been preparation and attention to detail which has gotten the rookie off to a fast start.
In film sessions, Lauvao has proved a quick study. His nearly immediate understanding of the blocking scheme and assignments has been very good. During on-field sessions, Lauvao has demonstrated solid footwork, good lateral movement and a quick and forceful punch at the point.
Once the pads go on and the hitting commences, Lauvao should shine. A physical player with improved weight distribution and agility, Lauvao could prove to be a steal for the Browns. The possibility exists for the rookie to continue his rapid progress, and a starting role at RG is not out of the question.
Furthermore, those within the Browns coaching staff are of the impression Lauvao could become a fixture at any position other than center, in time.
-Some were surprised to see rookie RB Montario Hardesty's rapid rise on the Browns depth chart. Hardesty came to rookie camp ready to play. His work ethic is strong, but it is his ability to absorb information and carry that to the practice field that surprised the Browns coaching staff.
On the field, Hardesty makes very few mental errors. His blocking against the blitz has been exceptional, his ability to one-cut and run to daylight has been impressive. Plus, he is a good receiver coming out of the backfield.
Interestingly, the Browns were keeping an eye on Hardesty in the days leading up to the draft and were especially concerned a team would jump in front of them to select the late-rising RB.
Despite knee issues in college, Hardesty overcame the injuries. His overall lower body strength improved following the knee issues and his overall speed and quickness improved as well.
Hardesty has taken advantage of gaining additional reps in practice sessions. With RB Jerome Harrison and Lawrence Vickers not reporting to OTA sessions on time and RB Peyton Hillis battling illness, Hardesty worked with each offensive unit, but his consistency with the first-team offense was charted.
With training camp around the corner, the coaching staff has worked with Hardesty to improve his lean, which should help alleviate defenders getting under his pads on contact.
Of course, most players look the part in non-contact drills, if athletic and motivated. It's when the pads go on and hitting commences that the men are separated from the boys. In the case of Shawn Lauvao and Montario Hardesty, the Browns are cautiously optimistic both will be key contributors in the 2010 season.
The initial signs look promising.