By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Notes, quotes and observations from Browns training camp Day 6 …
* JG in the Big Apple: Receiver Josh Gordon was absent from practice to plead his appeal of a drug suspension in New York before league-designee Harold Henderson. There have been reports that the only way Gordon could receive a suspension less than “indefinite” -- a one-year minimum, per terms of the league substance abuse policy – would be if Gordon’s legal team negotiated some sort of settlement with the NFL. Gordon’s camp intended to claim secondhand smoke was the reason Gordon tested barely over the league threshold for marijuana. While Henderson, a former league vice president, heard the appeal, it is believed that a decision on Gordon will not be finalized until Commissioner Roger Goodell returns to New York Monday from Hall of Fame festivities this weekend in Canton, OH. At a press availability outside the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Friday, Goodell said, “Josh is going through the process right now. I am not a part of that process. At some point in time, I may have an opportunity to be involved. When I am, I look forward to meeting with him.” Goodell was pressed on the apparent double standard of heavy league suspensions for positive drug tests v. a lighter one (two games) for the widely seen incident of domestic violence by Baltimore running back Ray Rice. Goodell pointed out it was Rice’s first incident and added, “We have a drug program that is collectively bargained and it has a step process. It takes four incidents before you actually reach a suspension in a drug-related case.” Coach Mike Pettine said he did not know if Gordon would return in time to be active for Saturday’s team scrimmage in Akron.
* Take that: Frustrated by a camp-long domination by the defense, the offense had a little fun on Friday. At times it appeared the practice script called for work on touchdown demonstrations. Willie Snead spiked one ball in the end zone after one catch. After another, Anthony Armstrong turned and launched the ball into the second story of the corporate VIP chalet. Nate Burleson tucked the ball under his jersey after one TD catch and gestured to the crowd. And Johnny Manziel, after trotting into the end zone on a quarterback draw, aimed the football at the crossbar like he was shooting a short jumper. The last act drew an automatic flag from the NFL officials on hand. A new rule, spurred by Jimmy Graham’s game-delaying goalpost dunk last year, now classifies the goalpost as a prop. Using it in a TD demonstration brings an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. “I needed to do a better job explaining the rule to them,” coach Mike Pettine said. “I’d rather learn the lesson at practice and use it as a coaching moment than in a game.” Pettine wasn’t bothered at all by the newfound exuberance displayed by the offense. “I think they were a little frustrated over time with the defensive backs, (who) had been very physical with them and had won a lot of battles. I think that just spilled over. Any time they had a chance to get in the end zone they wanted to make sure everybody knew it,” Pettine said. Receiver Andrew Hawkins said, “Sometimes when you get in these situations where you’re doing so much stuff and it’s monotonous every single day, it’s good to rev it up a little bit and get a little enthusiasm out of everybody.”
* Family Fun, team fun: Saturday’s scrimmage in InfoCision Stadium in Akron will simulate some game conditions. Pettine said first “rack” of plays would pit the No. 1 units against each other, but he didn’t know yet how he would divide reps after that. Each “rack” of plays would end with some sort of kick – extra point, field goal or punt. Tackling will be live except on punts and quarterbacks. Pettine said he will be looking for “who can step up and make plays in a live situation. Just about everything so far has been scripted. This is now just a true, unscripted period.” The scrimmage comes at a good time for Manziel, who has struggled in the tight structure of practice. The chance to return to game-time situations might loosen up Manziel, though Pettine cautioned, “Some of the things that he was maybe able to escape from in college may be whistled dead in the scrimmage.” All 25,000 free tickets to the scrimmage have been distributed, so there is no walk-up admittance without a ticket.
* More fun: Pettine’s “challenge period” at the end of practice consisted of offensive and defensive coaches trying to catch knuckleball punts from Spencer Lanning. In the fourth round, defensive line coach Anthony Weaver made the first drop. Then offensive intern Mike LaFleur made the catch for the win, earning the offense the right to wear orange jerseys at Monday’s practice. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan drew some laughs with a spin-and-spike routine after making his catch.
* Brownie bits: Safety Tashaun Gipson walked off the field after suffering a knee injury. He was led inside with a trainer. Pettine had no information other than to say, “He’s being evaluated.” … Good timing on the Jim Leonhard signing … Manziel worked again exclusively with the second team. Pettine wouldn’t say if Manziel might get some first-team reps in the scrimmage … Pettine wanted practice to end on a successful long field goal. Billy Cundiff missed wide right from 51 yards, banged the right upright again from 51 yards, missed wide right from 46 yards before nailing one through from 46 on his fourth try.
|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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