By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
Here are my five biggest takeaways from the first day of practice at Browns training camp:
>>Upbeat tempo. For a first practice, the tempo was remarkably fast. But that’s how coach Rob Chudzinski likes it. He instills a sense of urgency throughout the team, and both the offense and defense functioned that way. The ball generally came out quickly from all three quarterbacks – Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell, and Brian Hoyer. The defense also showed quick reaction to running plays and in pass coverage. There wasn’t a whole lot of chatter. That’s not Chud’s way. He likes to move around and observe, allowing his assistant coaches to handle most of the details. Another reason for the fairly quiet approach by Chudzinski and the assistants is that mistakes generally were kept to a minimum and there wasn’t a whole of correcting to do.
>>Weeden rebounded from a slow start. After being off the mark on some early throws, Weeden began looking fairly sharp and consistently connected with his receivers. He had some nice deep passes and also showed good touch on shorter ones. As is the case in Norv Turner’s scheme, Weeden had a wide variety of targets and used them all – from receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little and Travis Benjamin on the outside, to slot receiver Davone Bess and tight end Jordan Cameron in the middle, to running back Trent Richardson out of the backfield. And the routes were usually fairly deep. Very little dink-and-dunk stuff.
>>Trent Richardson ran well. The running back looks noticeably faster than he did last season, when he was bothered by a knee injury in training camp and then a rib problems during the season. He showed no signs of being bothered by the shin strain that kept him out of offseason workouts. He was quick and explosive on the many stretch running plays that were called, as well as on pass routes out of the backfield. And he caught the ball well.
>>Bess just catches everything that comes his way. I don’t know how many times Nathan Zegura, my partner on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” and I said that to each other during practice. As he did during offseason workouts, Bess ran ultra-precise routes and consistently caught the ball. It is easy to envision him having a key role in this offense, despite its emphasis on outside passing. Bess will force defenses to pay attention to him, thus opening things up for the outside receivers.
>>Jabaal Sheard looks natural at outside linebacker. Sheard was a beast at the line of scrimmage – or, at least as much of a beast as a defender can be during a non-contact drill. He got off the ball quickly and was strong in coverage. It’s early, but it seems as if he is more at home standing up in the Browns’ new 3-4 defense than he was putting his hand on the ground as he has done the past two seasons in the 4-3.
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