By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Notes, quotes and observations on Browns training camp Day 2 …
* One day at a time: The coaches don’t get hung up on a daily evaluation of the quarterback competition like the rest of us. And while some believe the first day of Brian Hoyer v. Johnny Manziel was a draw (not me), there was consensus that Hoyer had a much, much better day on Sunday than the rookie challenger. In team drills (which matter most), Hoyer had two plays of note – an accurate deep ball of some 40 yards over Joe Haden and Tashaun Gipson completed to Anthony Armstrong, and then a nice completion over the middle to Armstrong, again, on a quick-play action throw. Manziel had his moments – zip-lining a completion to Miles Austin over the middle after picking up a low snap. But there were more examples of Manziel struggling on his second day, whereas Hoyer clearly advanced. Coach Mike Pettine winced when I asked if Manziel “struggled.” “I don’t know if I want to stand here every day just walking off the field and evaluate the performance,” he said. “Until we watch the tape, look at the grade sheets, kind of know what was asked from him and what were the guys around him doing, I don’t want to get into that habit. Sometimes you think one thing and you get in and watch the tape and your opinion changes completely, so it’s hard to say.” Pettine did indicate Hoyer had a better second practice than his first and attributed it to Hoyer naturally feeling more comfortable back in live action after his long layoff. “I think he’ll only get more comfortable as we go,” Pettine said.
* Must be the shoes: Manziel entered the field wearing a pair of neon lime Nike football cleats that were bright enough to be detected on Doppler radar in Toledo. He wore them through warmups and then changed into a pair of orange cleats early in position drills. Another rookie mistake by Johnny Football? Pettine said players must wear team-issued gear on the field. “(Rookie defensive end) Calvin Barnett came out yesterday and decided to wear Oklahoma State socks. Even though they were Browns orange, that lasted a day,” Pettine said.
* Where’s Pinkston?: The club declined to explain the absence of guard Jason Pinkston from the first two days of camp. Pinkston made a remarkable comeback last year from a blood clot ailment during the 2012 season. He participated in OTAs and minicamp but has not been seen by media here. Pettine opened his daily briefing by saying Pinkston is “unavailable to practice … due to the circumstances I can’t comment on it anymore.” Asked if will be back, Pettine answered, “Possibility,” but declined any further questions. On his Twitter feed, Pinkston wrote, “I can assure you I'm in no legal trouble & retiring hasn't came up. As far as my situation I'll leave it to them to explain”.
* Bitonio back: Joel Bitonio did it in OTAs and now he’s maintained his status as the only rookie getting consistent reps with the first team. He is entrenched at left guard after returning to camp fully healed from a high ankle sprain injury in OTAs. “It worked out well,” said the affable second-round pick from Nevada. “You never want to get injured, but it left plenty of time to recover. I had eight weeks to recover and it’s a 4 to 6 week injury.” The Browns see Bitonio as a force in the Kyle Shanahan zone-blocking scheme. “Shanahan told me, ‘You’re built for this offense.’ I feel like I fit well. You can be athletic, but you still have to master the technique,” Bitonio said.
* Strap it on: Monday marks the first practice with full pads. Players and coaches are looking forward to it. Pettine doesn’t have anything special planned, but intends to have an inside run drill every day in pads. “I want to be able to hear the practice,” he said. “To me, you know when the pads are popping we’re getting after each other. It’s been tough on the offense because it’s advantage-defense when you’re not in pads. That to me is what’s been missing for us so far is to master the physical techniques that we haven’t been able to practice without pads on.”
Brownie bits: Some proven veterans will be on “pitch counts” and receive periodic days off during camp. Left tackle Joe Thomas received his on Sunday … Possibly to help evaluate the inside linebacker competition between Craig Robertson and rookie Chris Kirksey, Karlos Dansby receive some reps on the edge … A couple player skirmishes were quickly snuffed out. One involved cornerback Buster Skrine and receiver Willie Snead. “Everybody’s blood’s boiling. Looking to make plays. Sometimes that happens,” Skrine said. Pettine’s message: “It’s not going to help guys make the team. It’s a bad habit to have at practice. You can say I won’t lose my cool in the game. That’s easy to say, that’s harder to do.” … MarQueis Gray was the only player of five to return after initially failing the conditioning run on Friday. Gray, a tight end last season, worked exclusively as a fullback ... Rookie running back Isaiah Crowell switched to No. 34 from No. 30 ... Fans waited in lines to ride a zip line behind the VIP area. The zip line will not be an every-day feature of camp. Two other appearances are planned in Berea and it will be available at Family Day Aug. 2 at InfoCision Stadium in Akron, said a club official.
|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 email@example.comFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
Return to: Grossi Stories Blog