By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
Here are my five biggest takeaways from the eighth day of practice at Browns training camp:
>>Familiarity breeds contempt. The saying is absolutely true at NFL training camps. There’s a point when players simply get sick of the practice routine, especially those on opposite sides of the ball. The Browns are at that point. They’re at the middle of camp, and the players are ready to start hitting guys from another team. That won’t come until Thursday night’s preseason-opener against the Rams. In the meantime, some players look for ways to vent, such as Friday’s scuffle between nose tackle Phil Taylor and center Alex Mack during a drill. The team’s 3-4 defense puts Taylor in a place that he hasn’t been before in practice – right across from Mack. And with the Browns’ preference of practicing starters against starters, it wasn’t going to take long for Taylor and Mack to decide they’ve had more than their fill of each other. It should also be noted that Taylor has had two of his better practices the past couple of days.
>>Mitchell Schwartz’s challenge. It isn’t easy playing offensive tackle in the NFL under the best of circumstances. It’s even harder when you consistently line up across from one of the more talented outside linebackers in the league. That’s the challenge second-year Browns right tackle Mitchell Schwartz faces in each practice. His opponent usually is Paul Kruger, who has a variety of moves and fakes that, along with his tremendous strength and athleticism, make him extremely difficult to block. It’s quite a change from last year when Schwartz mainly dealt with Jabaal Sheard, who is pretty much a straight-line pass-rusher.
>>Owen Marecic making strides. It’s easy to overlook this guy, mainly because the fullback doesn’t have a prominent role in the offense. But Marecic has managed to turn some heads with his blocking, which looks noticeably better than last year. He is doing a good job of getting in front of defenders and sustaining his blocks, especially in pass protection.
>>It’s in the eyes. Brandon Weeden had another solid day of practice on Friday. He made some nice throws to Greg Little and even showed some decent mobility on designed runs. For the most part, it looks as if he is doing a better job of scanning the secondary (or, as scouts like to say, “moving his eyes”) for second and third options rather than being so quick to lock onto a single target.
>>High-effort defenders. Practice after practice, it’s easy to notice a couple of defensive players for their sheer effort: outside linebacker Quentin Groves and defensive lineman Brian Sanford. Groves and Sanford display a considerable amount of energy, enthusiasm, and aggressiveness. They consistently are in the thick of the action, whether it’s getting after the passer or stopping the run.
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