Adkins: Tasty tidbits from camp

With training camp underway, Lane Adkins has taken notes and put together his observations on the current makeup of the 2010 Cleveland Browns.

Below are notes and tidbits from first-hand observations of the 2010 Cleveland Browns training camp:

Quarterbacks

- A significant portion of the early offense success is due to the quarterbacks reading the defense and attacking a weakness in the secondary, which has been at safety. On numerous occasions, the tight ends have been on the receiving end of downfield completions from each of the Browns four quarterbacks.

- Playing into that equation has been the absence of key defensive line personnel (Shaun Rogers and C.J. Mosely), as well as the Browns being a team that generates a pass rush from the linebackers and blitz packages, which has been minimally utilized as the team is not in full-attack mode in camp. In non-tackling  team drills when the defense does open-up and blitz, the efficiency of the offense has not been as noteworthy.

- Rookie Colt McCoy has enough arm strength to play at the professional level.

Wide receivers

- Overall, starting CB's Eric Wright and Sheldon Brown have done a solid job in coverage, especially when pressing. As the camp sessions have progressed, the Browns young WR's and notably Brian Robiskie have gained reasonable success against the likes of Wright and Brown. Robiskie's sneaky quickness, better than advertised strength and ball awareness skills have been on display on a daily basis.

- Mohamed Massaquoi has gotten off to a slow start in training camp. Often matched-up against Brown and occasionally Wright, the second-year player has had trouble consistently getting off press coverage, while not displaying the ability of yet to keep a corner from beating him off the spot. On one specific occasion, Massaquoi was to run a quick slant, Brown jumped the route, while Delhomme pump-faked and hit a tight end down the seam. This awareness and recognition is something the Browns have failed to capitalize in years past -- but, despite the success, it continues to raise a question regarding the overall experience and quality of the Browns wide receiving corps. This developmental process is critical to the long-term success of this team.

- Nearly a week into training camp, rookies Carlton Mitchell and Jonathan Haggerty have gained a consistency in practice sessions. As part of the developmental process, a player is likely to make mental mistakes when they tire. That could become a factor in the next 10 days, as camp begins to take a toll physically and mentally.

- Cribbs has been explosive in special teams drills and was much better in the receiving game of late. On Wednesday, Cribbs ran crisper routes and gained seperation in team drills.

- In his second year Brian Robiskie has a special relationship brewing with quarterbacks Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. The time they spent working together this offseason is evident. The quarterbacks and Robiskie are comfortable in team drills and appear to have gained the knowledge of each other as to ball placement, etc.

Offensive line

- The offensive line play thus far in camp has been solid. Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach and Alex Mack are as advertised, and the right-side of the line continues to be an interesting area to watch. Veteran Floyd Womack has fared well at right guard or right tackle and could start at either position, though the Browns may have other plans. Rookie Shawn Lauvao has gained intermediate reps with the starters at right guard, while spending an increasing amount of time at backup center. The rookie has fared well with each challenge and is sure to play a valuable role for the team.

- An area of concern is the starting right tackle spot. Tony Pashos (illness) has returned to practice and will be looked upon to solidify the position, as veteran John St. Clair, Joel Reinders and Womack vie for an extended look. At this early point, the combination of Lauvao at right guard and Womack at right tackle have looked best, but there will be some significant practice time and preseason game activity that could easily change the early look along the right-side.

- Lauvao has the opportunity to be a starter. He has been strong at the point of attack, displays good strength and awareness and has made few mistakes.

- St. Clair has been slow coming out of the gate in training camp. With the talent added during the offseason, the veteran could be on the bubble, barring injuries or unexpected failure.

Running backs

- Peyton Hillis can be an effective weapon in the passing game. His athleticism and size enable him to get separation from a defender. With a veteran quarterback such as Delhomme under center, Hillis could gain plenty of opportunities when the initial reads are covered.

Tight ends

- Veteran tight end Robert Royal is healthy and willing has had a solid camp to date. A season ago Royal struggled with a finger injury, which lead to numerous dropped passes. In this camp, Royal has been dependable and nearly a standout in the passing game, while remaining very good in the blocking game.

- Its been somewhat surprising to see the Browns offense command lengthy segments of team drills. Barring a mental mistake, (ie: pass into coverage), the Browns offense with Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace on the field has been efficient. Making this early success even more promising is the offense is working well as a unit while the wide receiver position remains a work in progress -- and the tight ends, namely Evan Moore, Robert Royal and Ben Watson have played a major role.

Defensive line

- Early in this camp, the Browns have thrust young, inexperienced talent into the mix along the defensive line with mixed results. With Shaun Rogers and C.J. Mosely sidelined, Titus Adams, rookies Kwaku Danso, Clifton Geathers, Swanson Miller and Brian Sanford have gained an opportunity to impress the coaching staff. Adams and Miller have displayed some early potential inside, while Sanford and Danso have struggled. Geathers, a 2010 draft pick, has had a coach in his ear daily regarding improvement in his technique.

- Rogers appears to be in the best shape he has been since arriving in Cleveland. The veteran lineman remains an imposing figure and appears larger in the upper-body. Working separate from the team, Rogers was exceptional when exploding into the blocking sled for approximately 15 minutes.

- Ahytba Rubin continues to develop physically and with this football skills. Rubin has nearly been an immovable force at the nose tackle position in team drills and could remain the starter at nose tackle. When Rogers returns from injury, he is expected to see increased time at defensive end as well as defensive tackle when the Browns play a four-down linemen situational scheme.

Linebackers

- The spots have been a rotating adventure to this point. Chris Gocong and Scott Fujita have rotated inside and out, while others at the position have been used in different combinations, playing different roles in scheme packages. As a comfort level is gained by all at the position, the production is anticipated to be enhanced, as well as a furthering array of specialty scheme packages will be installed.

Secondary

- Rookie cornerback Joe Haden is similar to veteran cornerback Sheldon Brown. Both like to be physical with a receiver and are willing to help support the run.

- Safety T.J. Ward has the physical skills, but he needs time to grasp the mental responsibilities of the position. He has been up and down during camp practices, which isn't uncommon for a rookie.

- Ward is showing why rookies will be rookies during the initial developmental process. In watching Ward get physical with a receiver, jumping a route or making a proper read, you come away with the impression he can help this team immediately. Then suddenly, the rookie rears its head, as the safety will let a tight end or a wide receiver beat him in coverage. There is little doubt Ward has the physical ability, now he must grasp the limitless mental preparation.

- Rookie safety Larry Asante has been more consistent in practice sessions when compared to Ward. Yet Asante appears to be less likely to provide that impact play ability of Ward.

- Cornerback Brandon McDonald is quietly having a good camp.

- Defensive back Gerard Lawson has gained meaningful reps in team drills and has performed well. Along with intercepting two passes, he has been involved in a couple pass break-ups and has been in position during rushing drills. Lawson is also the backup to Josh Cribbs in the return game.

- If the Browns play more press coverage and gain adequate safety help, this defense could be much improved. The pass rush should remain a positive, though the coaching staff would like to see an increased rush presence come off the base sets, rather than coming from blitz packages.

Miscellaneous

- Something should be noted about the Browns' conditioning program. The players appear in tremendous shape, some sporting noticeable increased body strength.


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