Observations from 1st day in pads

Posted by Vic Carucci on July 29, 2012 – 6:24 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

Here are some observations from the Browns’ first day in pads at training camp:

>>There was some typical sloppiness that comes from the first day of contact drills. The dramatic surge in practice tempo always catches rookies off-guard, and it even seemed to have a few of the veterans a little wobbly at times. You saw miscommunication between quarterbacks and receivers, some misfired throws, a fumbled snap, and the need for regrouping among offensive players and coaches here and there. A little more yelling could be heard from the coaches than was the case during the previous two days of camp. Again, very ordinary stuff for the first day of pads.

>>Brandon Weeden looked very much like a rookie quarterback at times. He made some poor decisions, one of which led to an interception. But the errors he did make were mostly out of his willingness to challenge the defense deep with his strong arm. Weeden calls himself an “aggressive thrower,” and that has been evident throughout the first few days of camp. He performed better on Sunday than he did on Saturday, largely because he is a perfectionist and took the time (staying up until past midnight Sunday) to study the corrections he needed to make.

>>The fan support was absolutely inspiring. The crowd of roughly 4,200 was the most for a single practice session since the team began tracking camp attendance in 2005. It says that people are pretty excited about the infusion of talent from the draft and supplemental draft, and anxious to see what sort of strides have been made to improve over last year. It also says that it was a great way to spend picture-perfect, sun-splashed day.

>>The emphasis Sunday was on running the ball, because that’s what contact best allows the coaches to assess. And for the most part, what the Browns did in that area was encouraging. The offensive line got its share of victories. Guards Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao were particularly impressive. The Browns did the bulk of their running to the left, behind Pinkston and left tackle Joe Thomas.

>>Several passing plays included five-step drops, which allows for longer routes to develop. Browns coach Pat Shurmur clearly has plenty of confidence in Weeden, his offensive line, and his receivers to take that approach in what he no doubt sees as a more attack-oriented passing game.

>>The defensive line was mostly solid inside, despite the absences of tackles Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor. Rookie tackles John Hughes and Billy Winn had some turns to work next to each other, and looked good. Veterans Brian Schaefering and Scott Paxson also worked together in the middle. Make no mistake: The sooner Rubin and Taylor return, the better, but in the meantime, but the Browns do have some decent answers. Rubin is expected to return soon, although Taylor is likely to miss part of the regular season.

>>Montarrio Hardesty stole the show at running back. He showed exceptional speed and explosiveness on outside runs, and held his own between the tackles. Hardesty definitely has entered this camp wanting to make a statement that, despite Trent Richardson being selected with the third overall pick and already being named the starting running back, he is still capable of making a significant contribution.

>>Richardson caught everyone’s attention when he snagged a short pass from Brandon Weeden, made a quick cut and then tore upfield in a flash.

>>Rookie receiver Josh Gordon continued to show his exceptional physical skills by running smooth routes, catching the ball well, and utilizing all of his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame to separate from defenders.

>>Receiver Greg Little did some work from the slot. The idea is to find a way to have him and Gordon on the field as much as possible with the other receivers as much as possible, although it seems to be a role with which he will need some time to get comfortable.

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci

Posted in Carucci's Call | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Observations from 1st day in pads”

  1. By Captain Cleveland on Jul 29, 2012 | Reply

    I love it. The only thing I don’t love is that after finally seeming to have a front office execute a plan that may this year show signs of becoming a team that can challenge for the Super Bowl by year 5, may well get cut short and a re-start enacted at year 3. New ownership wants to make their mark. They rarely just leave everything as is. And with the plan being to build through the draft and therefore take time to develop and time for players in the system to grow, to someone on the outside, it may seem like we just suck. Here’s hoping that Mr. “I’m a 1,000 % Steelers fan” Haslam takes a cue from his own favorite team and sees the wisdom in stability and this front office’s plan, just now starting to come together. But then again, it is the Browns, and it does seem perfect timing to pull a Charlie Brown and pull the rug out from under us at the last second. I hope not.

  2. By Dr Tom on Jul 30, 2012 | Reply

    This year I have become a true Brown’s fan. Finally, draft picks to fire the west coast offense.
    From my calculations last year the team averaged 13.6 on offense against 19.2 on defense. No wonder they had a disastrous year. This year will be different. Hiring the gunslinger, the “Rifleman” Weeden, who, like the original “Rifleman” Chuck Connor, transitioned from baseball, will transform this team into a scoring machine. (Of course, receivers must HOLD ON TO THE BALL! How can a receiver drop a ball that is on the numbers with speed 95 times out of 100?) Getting back to the ‘Rifleman.” Rifleman Weeden will add 14 or more points to each game this season, I truly expect a 13 and 3 record this year and a run in the playoffs. Richardson will be rookie of the year and Gordon will finally become a leading receiver with the “Rifleman” at the other end of the ball. Dear Marketing Department, I now want a Brown’s jersey with the words “The Rifleman” on the back.

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