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Browns GM Mike Lombardi on the rookie draft class: Play time is more important than who gets introduced

Jul 31, 2013 -- 8:20pm

By Tony Grossi |


Observations, notes, quotes and some facts on Day 6 of Browns training camp …

* Media had been requesting an availability with Mike Lombardi for days and after it was granted on Wednesday it was a textbook example of “be careful what you ask for.”

Lombardi, the former NFL Network analyst, was typically vague and ambiguous in talking about the team over which he now presides as general manager. To wit:

-- On quarterback Brandon Weeden: “I think everybody that practices football has really good days and they have some bad days and I think everything’s a learning experience. I think (he) clearly has proven in the offseason that he’s gotten better at everything they’ve asked him to do. So every day is about getting better and I think that’s what a lot of players are doing.”

-- On rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo: “I think Mingo is a lot like he was at LSU. He’s kind of symbolic of what we’re trying to acquire here – plays hard, plays with passion, is athletic, a player who can run. Obviously he’s got a long way to go to learn his craft as a player. I think the coaches will have a role for him and I think Mingo will work hard at excelling in that role. One thing I’ve learned in my career is that players develop their skills within a system and I think he’s got those skills that fit the system.”

I asked Lombardi if it would be a disappointment if none of his five draft picks starts as a rookie, or if that was expected.

He answered: “That’s an interesting question because starting doesn’t necessarily mean … the play time is more important to me than who gets introduced. I think as we build this team, I think you’ll see the younger players play and grow.”

* Practice on the first day-after an off day seemd a bit lethargic. In position drills, defensive backs had trouble holding on to the ball. In team drills, quarterbacks were mostly off target. A false start penalty by rookie guard Garrett Gilkey earned the wrath of coach Rob Chudzinski. “Focus, Gilkey!” he roared.

Both kickers missed from 50-plus yards after two-minute drills. Punter T.J. Conley had a punt travel about 25 yards. At one point, after running back Dion Lewis had ripped off consecutive good runs against the second-team defense, a starter railed, “C’mon, dee. Pick this s**t up!”

* Chudzinski said he doesn’t plan anything special for the Family Night practice in FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday.

“We’re going to do it as a normal practice,” he said. “We’ll have some situational work and some move-the-ball periods. With our install and how tight it is, the number of days before the game, we have to get some things done, more so than open it up for a scrimmage type situation. We’re going to be playing on Thursday, so there’s not a lot of time.”

* Running back Montario Hardesty and defensive end Desmond Bryant returned to practice. Receiver Josh Gordon (patellar tendinitis) will be out a couple of days, Chudzinski said. Gordon watched practice wearing a white floppy sun hat. Guard Ryan Miller is still being withheld until he passes post-concussion protocol.

* Coaches continue to experiment with players other than Owen Marecic at fullback. On Monday, it was Chris Ogbonnaya filling the role. On Wednesday, Brad Smelley.

* Highlights included a Johnson Bademosi interception, a Leon McFadden diving break-up of a Jason Campbell pass for Jordan Norwood, a Weeden-to-Travis Benjamin TD bomb over defensive back Josh Aubrey, and shoulder pop by defensive back Kent Richardson that sent receiver Tori Gurley tumbling to the ground.

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

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

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




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