We actually get to talk about football today. Not drama. Not what ifs and not just looking backwards. Instead we get to look at each day and get a glimpse at the information coming out of Berea, Oh. We will recap each day of Browns Training Camp with the best and most interesting information to come out. We will provide analysis of that information and try to spin it forward as best we can. Today we look at a number of subjects:
West was an interesting character as he was placed on the NFI list for failing his conditioning test but took to Twitter to deny that saying he passed it. Mike Pettine, yesterday, said there was some miscommunication, that West did fail his test but then said:
#browns Pettine on Terrance west failing conditioning test: "he showed up the next morning and crushed it"
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) July 26, 2014
Good news. It is possible that West wasn’t totally aware of what was expected during the test or that he flat out failed it. That Pettine came to his defense with the idea that he “crushed it” is a good sign for where his conditioning is. Praise of West didn’t end with Pettine:
Terrance West is a beast. Period. Showed nice hands today. #Browns
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) July 27, 2014
That is an important thing from West given that he wasn’t asked to do much receiving at Towson. With the lack of receiver depth, and Kyle Shanahan’s ability to be creative and get players involved in multiple ways, catching the ball out of the backfield will be huge for West. Reviews of West were high across the board. A quick note about the other running backs that we concur with:
— Brendan Leister (@BrendanLeister) July 26, 2014
One of the bigger stories for the Browns this year will be receiver. Even before the news that Josh Gordon would like be suspended for a full season, fans wanted the Browns to draft a receiver high. When they didn’t in the 1st round everyone, including this writer, assumed one was coming off the board early in the 2nd or 3rd. Instead the Browns drafted none. They signed some undrafted free agents and brought in Miles Austin and Nate Burelson, along with slot dynamo Andrew Hawkins. Pettine had a interesting comment when talking about the receivers:
Pettine: "There's not a huge difference from the first (receiver) to the last guy. That's encouraging." I wouldn't call it that but…
— Zac Jackson (@FSOhioZJackson) July 26, 2014
As Jackson tweeted, not sure we would call it encouraging either. Gordon was out there but was one of the last in line and given reps with the 3rd stringers. He seemed to be walking through the motions. Austin got a good amount of positive attention from those in attendance but besides that no one stood out. This seems to be less exciting and more concerning that no receiver stood out in a setting that is ripe for one to do so.
Gilbert, the Browns first 1st round pick, will be a huge story this year. Many will compare him to Sammy Watkins and connect him to any lack of receiving prowess the team might have. Gilbert, and the Browns, are hoping he can take hold of the #2 corner spot from Buster Skrine and provide 2 big corners in Pettine’s scheme. Gilbert has the skills needed to do so but cornerback, behind quarterback, may be the toughest position in the league to transition to the NFL. So far Gilbert has looked good and even gotten some time with the 1st team:
#Browns CB Justin Gilbert took some first-team reps toward the end of practice. "The more I earn it, the more I hope I get it," he said.
— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) July 26, 2014
Skrine, with his quickness and speed would be a perfect inside corner in the nickel and dime packages that the Browns will likely be in most of the game. Gilbert will help the Browns against taller secondary receivers that burned the Browns time and time again last year.
Brian Hoyer looked good. Johnny Manziel looked good. So far so good. While watching camp, especially individual drills, one thing stood out for this writer. When Manziel and Hoyer would be next to each other taking snaps, Hoyer would always release his pass at least a full second before Manziel. A second in the NFL is like a year. Obviously Hoyer has far more experience and comfort in the NFL game, especially dropping back from center. Throwing receivers open and hitting them in stride will be a huge transition for Manziel. Hoyer spoke about his childhood love for the Browns, which drives him now as the defacto starter:
#Browns' Hoyer: "Playing for this team was my dream as a child, but being from here doesn't make me best QB for this team.I want to earn it"
— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) July 26, 2014
While Hoyer is right that being from here doesn’t make him the best QB, it does give him more slack from fans. If Hoyer was from anywhere else fans would likely be calling for Manziel after Hoyer’s first INT. Instead he will be given some grace as he is “one of us.”
Manziel, like it has been was a little more interesting for his off the field discussion:
To clarify, Manziel was asked one question about the rolled up bill and the transcript was edited by the team to not mention it.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 26, 2014
Johnny Manziel: "I’m 21 years old. But age is not an excuse. I need to mature and I have done some immature things." #growingup
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) July 26, 2014
Not going to give a ton of energy to that first tweet except to say that could be NFL related, if they are investigating it the Browns and Manziel should not be commenting on it.
The second statement is far more interesting. Manziel is starting to show a little politician in him, and not in a good way. Before the draft he told teams, and anyone who would listen, how he would change his ways when drafted. Then after the completion of OTAs and mini camp went on a party tour across the country. Now that he is back and talking to the media he comes out with these types of politically correct answers, basically saying the right thing, age isn’t an excuse, while also saying the excuse, I’m young. Is Manziel sincere or is he chameleon like that he can fit in and say the right thing at the right time?
Odds and Ends
Barkevious Mingo was also touted for gaining weight while still looking speedy. Mingo could have a huge year as Pettine finds creative ways to get him, Jabaal Sheard and Paul Kruger on the field together. If Mingo fulfills the hype from last year, remember rookies take time to transition, then maybe fans will stop wishing the Browns drafted a corner or lineman last year. Mingo’s reported improvement in both run defense and in coverage would provide a huge flexible piece in Pettine’s defense.
A couple injuries have crept up as well as Phil Taylor still not completing his conditioning test:
#Browns coach Mike Pettine said DL Billy Winn (hamstring) and G John Greco have injuries, that's why on NFI list. No timetable for either.
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) July 26, 2014
Some reports have had Winn’s injury as serious, others just a pull of the hamstring. While it is early in Training Camp Winn will be missed. The Browns have some good depth on the defensive line but were expecting a lot out of Winn this year. Greco is in competition for the last starting job on the offensive line. Greco, Jason Pinkston, Garrett Gilkey and others are all looking to lock up the other guard spot on what should be a dominate offensive line. Greco’s injury could hurt his chances for that spot.
Finally a quick update and look at First Energy Stadium and the upgrades going in for this season:
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) July 26, 2014
Will be good for fans of both the Browns looking for replays and information as well as fantasy football players looking to keep up on their teams.
What excites you from Day 1 of camp? What concerns you?