Cha-cha-changes

Aside from the orange helmets and barking fans, the Browns training facility in Berea had a different look as the team began its 2010 camp.

BEREA, Ohio - One thing's for sure.

Lots of things are different.

When the Browns opened training camp Saturday morning, the helmets were still orange, Eric Mangini was still the head coach and the fans still barked. Even the grown ones.

But this Mangini was smiling. He hasn't lost a game since the first week of December, and he's now much less the Emperor of Berea and much more just the football coach.

"There have been a few changes around here," Mangini joked.

A year ago today, Mike Holmgren was probably riding his Harley. Now he's the public face of the Browns, a role he seemed to be enjoying as Holmgren -- sporting a bright orange cast on his right leg and driving a golf cart -- stopped to soak in some of the energy created by the fans on the west side of the practice field.

If there's not energy and optimism on Day One of training camp, you might have trouble. And these Browns still might have lots of trouble with the bullies in their division. But there's enough different -- a new GM, new quarterbacks, lots of players with new jersey numbers and lots of new players, period, enough to create better competition and a better overall roster.

The Berea Fortress looks and operates much the same. The army of interns wore fresh t-shirts. The army of fans -- so many that the Browns had to stop letting them in until somebody else left -- wore the same shirts they've been wearing since some guy named Bernie was the quarterback. That's what Browns fans do. They remember. They hope. They believe.

In were a couple of Quitness shirts and lots of Colt McCoy Texas jerseys. Gone were the black Witness shirts and the #10 Notre Dame jerseys. As soon as practice ended, McCoy jogged over to sign autographs and be embraced by the masses.

Brady Who? Exactly. So much is different this year.

T.J. Ward was running with the number one defense. D'Qwell Jackson was not. Evan Moore was leaping over defenders to make catches. Many of the passes weren't exactly full of zip or right on target.

So not EVERYTHING was different. But enough was. And is.

Mangini talked about building on the lessons learned last year, both during the miserable 1-11 start and the four-game win streak that closed the season. He talked about "Browns football," and creating an identity is a big part of the process. For this team, that identity includes a power-running game and a defense that attacks and tries to force must-pass situations. It's about getting the ball to Joshua Cribbs in myriad ways and doing the simple things right at the biggest times.

There are new people controlling the in-practice music. Holmgren's hired new people to do almost everything else. The formula, though, is the same, and it includes getting Joe Haden in and rolling, getting Shaun Rogers out of sweatpants and off the sideline, getting over the terrible luck that's followed this team and showed up again two days ago when the star of the spring, Montario Hardesty, twisted his knee.

But Saturday was still about the new. It didn't take fans long to notice that Sheldon Brown was wearing #24, which used to belong to Eric Wright, who's now wearing #21. That means James Davis has a new number, too. And it certainly didn't take long to notice the arms on Matt Roth -- another guy in a new number -- bulging practically from sideline to sideline. Roth looks like he spent the summer building pyramids. By himself.

After sitting for a post-practice TV interview then signing autographs for 15 minutes, Wright almost left his shoulder pads and helmet on the field.

"They didn't say #24," he said, "so I walked right past them."

He's not the only one still getting used to everything new. Will there be new, positive results, too?

Stay tuned. The Browns -- whoever they are -- always keep it interesting.


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