Countdown to The Draft
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By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Extra Points …
Observations, opinions and some facts gleaned from Browns’ minicamp practice …
* There is no quarterback competition at Browns camp. Check that – no competition for the starting job. I see Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer sharing time with the second team. I see nobody but Brandon Weeden playing with the first team. Weeden has looked exceptional now in the last three team practices open to media. Any strong-armed passer with some playing experience should excel in the touch football phase of an NFL offseason, and Weeden has done that. Absent a rush and absent contact by defenders to disrupt the timing of pass routes and force a quarterback to adjust, a pretty passer can do what he does best – stand back and fire away. But there was one play that showed Weeden’s growth as a quarterback. In a 7-on-7 drill, Weeden made a read to Greg Little breaking down the middle of the field. It wasn’t the called play, but Weeden adjusted when he saw the safety break to the outside. Almost before Weeden released the ball, an offensive coach exclaimed, “Good read.” After Weeden’s laser throw on the money to Little 20 yards downfield, defensive coordinator Ray Horton, kneeling at the line of scrimmage to examine his defense, conceded, “I see you, 3. Nice throw.”
* No. 1 draft pick Barkevious Mingo is working with the second team defense, but it’s no concern and no reason not to expect a significant contribution from him as a rookie. The Browns apparently will follow the model used by the San Francisco 49ers with Aldon Smith, the No. 7 overall pick in 2011. Smith made no starts as a rookie and produced 14 sacks. The Browns don’t need to rush Mingo’s adjustment from defensive end to standup outside linebacker because they built depth with the additions of experienced 3-4 rush linebackers Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and moved Jabaal Sheard to the position. Mingo’s primary responsibilities appear to be in the pass rush – and on some special teams -- at this early stage of his pro career, and he has not been able to show his game completely because of the limitations on hitting, etc. But he swatted down a pass at the line of scrimmage on Tuesday. And no, it wasn’t Weeden who threw it. It was Campbell.
* I counted three drops for Josh Gordon, which is uncharacteristic because he has the softest hands of the receivers. But Gordon also made a soaring sideline grab over Joe Haden, after which he got both feet in bounds. There are times when Gordon looks like an absolute elite receiver and that play was one of them.
* Don’t expect the receivers to always line up with Gordon and Greg Little on the outside and Davone Bess in the slot. Coordinator Norv Turner and coach Rob Chudzinski have the receivers shifting from outside to the slot and vice versa, so as to keep defenses from clamping down on them. Pat Shurmur did a little of this last season. Remember that some of Gordon’s biggest plays last year originated from the slot, which created favorable mismatches. I have seen all the receivers run routes from the slot and all run outside routes. And things should get real interesting when 6-5 David Nelson is out there, too. Nelson, who missed most of last year in Buffalo with an ACL tear, said he expects to be ready to go on the first day of training camp. We'll have much more on him in Wednesday's Morning Kickoff.
* There has been no official announcement from the team yet on its training camp schedule. But a few players referred to July 26 as the date of the first practice.
* The first kicking competition in the post-Phil Dawson era will be interesting. I watched veteran Shayne Graham struggle to get much distance on kickoffs (into the wind) and then watched hopeful Brandon Bogotay hit an upright with one field goal attempt and then skim the crossbar with the very next one.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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