By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Updated at 4:01 p.m.
Notes, quotes and observations from Browns training camp Day 9 …
* Progress made: Maybe Tuesday will be regarded as the day the light went on for Johnny Manziel. Or maybe for the entire offense as a whole. Manziel had his finest practice throwing the ball, and so did Brian Hoyer. Both quarterbacks had different periods with the first-team offensive line, but Hoyer definitely received more reps with the starters as the practice went on, a tip-off that he will start the preseason opener in Detroit on Saturday. According to ESPNCleveland’s Jason Gibbs, Manziel completed 15 of 27 passes in 7 on 7 and team drills – his highest completion percentage of camp in a week. In one sequence, Manziel completed four consecutive passes – one to the left, one to the right and two over the middle. Coach Mike Pettine agreed that Manziel was more assertive in knowing where to go with the ball. “That’s also understanding the play and then who he’s reading. Am I reading the weak safety? Am I reading the strong safety? Where am I looking to go with this ball? I think that’s true of any rookie quarterback. Most of the time, they’re much slower. They have to anticipate. Where Hoyer’s ahead is his ability to throw a ball before a guy breaks open. But we certainly see Johnny make strides in that direction,” Pettine said.
* First depth chart unveiled: NFL coaches generally are loathe to release their first depth chart of camp because it sometimes sends wrong messages to media, fans and players about where each player stands in the team’s plans. “I did it because I had to do it,” Pettine said with a sigh. “I think at a lot of positions we would have just slashed guys (as co-starters). I would say it’s very loose in our minds. I wouldn’t put a lot of credence in it. It will be very fluid. And there’ll likely be changes after every week.” Cases in point: Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard are listed on the second team at their positions (behind Desmond Bryant and Paul Kruger, respectively). Miles Austin is the No. 2 receiver opposite Josh Gordon, ahead of Nate Burleson. Justin Gilbert is still listed behind Buster Skrine at cornerback. For the record, Hoyer is No. 1 at quarterback and Ben Tate No. 1 at running back.
* Safety numbers: Even though the Browns added Jim Leonhard to the safety competiton, don’t count out Jordan Poyer from the mix. With free safety Tashaun Gipson in uniform but out of the rotation after spraining a knee last week (precaution), Poyer received a lot of looks with the first and second teams, alternating with Leonhard at the position opposite Donte Whitner. Poyer was active in all nine games last year after being waived by the Eagles. A positive sign for Poyer is that he appears to be the No. 1 upback in punt formation – the player who calls the signals and is the punter’s last line of defense.
* Brownie bits: Lots of fans have asked about the future of Leon McFadden, who showed up fourth at cornerback on the depth chart behind Joe Haden, Isaiah Trufant and Pierre Desir. Happy to report that McFadden, a third-round pick last year, turned in an interception of Tyler Thigpen on Tuesday … Haden lit up Charles Johnson after a pass to the right sideline from Hoyer. Johnson smacked to the ground – but completed the catch … Manziel launched a deep ball to Travis Benjamin, who sprinted behind coverage. Only green grass between Benjamin and the end zone. Benjamin dropped it. Crowd groaned … Tight end Jordan Cameron remained out with a shoulder injury. Pettine said it's precautionary ... The team is not going with a backup kicker or punter right now, but that could change next week ... When Manziel walked off the practice field at the end of the day, he was carrying the shoulder pads and jersey of running back Ben Tate – another reminder that he is indeed a rookie.
|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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