By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Notes, quotes and observations from Browns minicamp practice …
The next time we see them: Brian Hoyer is "securely ahead" in the Browns quarterback competition but the deficit for Johnny Manziel is “not insurmountable,” coach Mike Pettine said after his team’s mandatory minicamp concluded on Thursday.
But the scoreboard will be tallied when training camp convenes in late July, and Pettine affirmed that Manziel will receive reps with the first team and also preseason game experience against No. 1 defenses.
Pettine said he will use the summer break to think about how to manage the competition in training camp and how to divide reps and playing time. Pettine, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterback coach Dowell Loggains will meet before camp and then script the No. 1 storyline of their first Browns training camp.
“We will compete and will decide it,” Pettine said. “The issue for us as a staff will be finding the right time to name the starter. If you wait too late, then nobody is ready for the opener. If you do it too soon, then it wasn’t a true competition. That will be part of our discussion as well as far as the date we want to go ahead and name him.”
Nervous time: Veteran players officially were dismissed from the offseason program at the conclusion of Thursday’s practice. Rookies will be detained for two weeks – one week of class, community work and the team’s youth camp, and then the NFL Rookie Symposium the following week at The Bertram Inn in Aurora and more youth clinics at the Browns’ facility.
Then it’s nervous time for Pettine and his staff as Manziel & Co. officially go on their summer break.
“I think it’s nervous any time your entire team is dismissed,” Pettine said. “As a coach, I think you hear your phone ring and you kind of look at it with one eye. We talked to them about it. Want to make sure they handle themselves well. The advice was learn the system, stay in shape, stay out of trouble.”
Manziel’s summer homework: Manziel better pack his team-issued iPad to take along his summer adventures. Pettine said for him to make up ground in the QB competition, he is going to need to study tape.
“I think he shouldn’t concern himself so much where Brian is, but where he is,” the coach said. “He’s going to have plenty of tape to study – his own work, the team work, opponent’s tape, a whole volume of Redskins tape. The more he familiarizes himself with that, the better off he’ll be.”
Red alert: Receiver Josh Gordon spent the last two practices of minicamp on the bike brigade and did not participate in any drills. Will that be the last team sees of Gordon until next year or will the NFL refute an ESPN report on May 9 and announce a suspension of Gordon for less than one year?
Whatever happens, Pettine believes the club will be informed before the start of training camp.
“I think that’s reasonable to say,” Pettine said. “We haven’t been given a date, but I think in fairness to us, the league would let us know (before camp). There’s no information as to what their plans are. I think we’re all comfortable in thinking we should know before training camp starts.”
Big Ben: Running back Ben Tate stayed out of team drills most of the three-day minicamp, nursing something minor. The opportunity with the first team made third-round rookie Terrance West look like a formidable challenge for Tate’s assumed starting job.
Tate is unfazed.
“He’s a rookie, so he’s having his difficult moments and flashes of good moments,” Tate said. “This team is going to need both of us.
“I expect big things out of myself. I’m excited. This is my opportunity. No way in the world I’m going to drop the ball on this opportunity.
“I know when I’m on my game, no disrespect to any running back here but there’s nobody that can really touch me who’s close to what I do. I battled in and out every day with what some people consider the best running back in the league, Arian Foster.
“I’ve seen the best, I battled it. So this around here, to me, is really not anything.”
Brownie bits: One result of the Garrett Gilkey v. Phil Taylor fisticuffs on Wednesday: “There was some hair pulled. That’s just the byproduct of my hairstyle. Going into camp, that’s one thing I’m considering changing,” Gilkey said … It’s easy to overanalyze this phase of the offseason without pads on and no hitting, but the one undrafted receiver who came on strong at the end was Chandler Jones of San Jose State. He made one of those extended-hands catches like Gordon on a crossing route that enabled him to stride past a defender on Thursday … That little DB Pettine brought over from his Jets days, Isaiah Trufant, has one advantage. At 5-7, he’s difficult for quarterbacks to spot in the secondary. Trufant kind of sneaked into a passing window at the last moment on a Brian Hoyer pass and almost picked it off … The final practice was about a half-hour shorter than the previous two. After individual drills, they dropped right into team drills. On the first snap under center, Manziel fumbled.
|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. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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