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Eyes on Berea: July 29

Jul 29, 2012 -- 1:14pm

By Tony Grossi

Observations, opinions and some facts about Sunday’s Browns practice …

Sounds of summer: No, it’s not the cicadas buzzing away in the trees in Berea. It’s the smack of helmets and pads on the first day of practice in full pads. “My favorite day of the year, other than game days, is the first day of pads,” coach Pat Shurmur said. Full pads allowed a rapt crowd its first chance to see No. 1 pick Trent Richardson doing what he does best – and Richardson didn’t disappoint. In inside run drills, Richardson poked or rammed his way through the line. The times he made it to the second wave, he lowered his shoulder and plowed into linebackers. “I love contact. I really do what I do best when I get to bounce off guys, try to run guys over, break tackles,” Richardson said. “It’s different when you put on the pads. I think when I get into full pads, it’s a whole other me. Not to be cocky or nothing. That’s just what I was blessed with.”

Record crowd: The Browns announced Sunday’s attendance at an even 4,200, which is the highest since the club began tracking attendance in 2005. The previous high was the very first public session of the 2010 camp.

Who’s that No. 20?: Montario Hardesty really does look like a new back -- and not because of his number change. He’s lighter, quicker, more energized. Above all, healthy. Yes, this is a big camp for the 2010 2d-round pick. He has to prove he can stay healthy. Even then, the best he could hope for here is to be Richardson’s backup. Maybe But Hardesty so far is showing he can make the running back cutdowns a difficult call for the Browns. “Montario looks good,” Shurmur said. “That’s part of what excites me … as we go forward and select our team I want there to be tough decisions.”

Deep inside stuff: Somebody involved in the evaluation of the team said this to me: “Let me tell you something, of those four new guys on offense, (Josh) Gordon is the best one.” High praise, no doubt. The other guys he was referring to, of course, were Richardson, Brandon Weeden and Schwartz.” … The defense has gotten the better of Weeden over the last three days, though Weeden threw the ball more accurately on Sunday. Cornerback Joe Haden told Weeden, “You’re staring down, man.”

Random thoughts: With Evan Moore still out with an undisclosed non-football injury, 2d-year tight end Jordan Cameron is getting lots of reps. They’ve got to find out if the former basketball player can survive the physical rigors of the position. Cameron is getting a lot of action in the middle of the field … Oniel Cousins played with the first team at right tackle. He and 2d-round pick Mitchell Schwartz have been alternating days with the No. 1 unit. I still see Schwartz winning the job, but Cousins does look like an improved player from the one who joined the team in late August last year.

Out of the WR rotation: Shurmur said consistently during the offseason that he considered Josh Cribbs a special teams player first who happens to play receiver. So when Cribbs’ reps at wideout were reduced to a few on Sunday, Shurmur was not lying when he responded to a question about Cribbs’ “changing role.” “No, his role’s not changing. He’s a special teams player that plays receiver,” Shurmur said. Cribbs said he reported to camp 15 pounds lighter, shedding five pounds more than the Browns instructed. “I think it will help him,” Shurmur said. “As you become a player on the back nine of your career, I think it really helps you not to carry extra weight.” Back nine? Cribbs turned 30 in June.

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 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi


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